Horrified: A Game Worthy of the Classics

If I started another blog, it would be about film. I have been a cinephile my whole life. I grew up on It’s a Wonderful Life, musicals, Charlie Chaplin, Star Wars, and smaller independent productions like The Bear & Duel (Spielberg’s first). Then, when I was a little older, I remember when Blockbuster would have the summer deal where you could rent as much as you wanted with just a small monthly fee and I fell in love with 70s cinema like Dirty Harry, The French Connection, Dog Day Afternoon, and THX 1138. I also developed a love for horror as I continued to branch out. Classic horror is nearly synonymous with Universal Studios’ iconic monsters. It won’t be long until films like Dracula, The Wolf Man, and Frankenstein are a century old, but their staying-power is a testament to how their archetypes & legendary themes still resonate so expressly today.

Horrified is a game from Ravensburger, designed by Prospero Hall, that is inspired by these classic Universal monsters. The movies are characterized by great atmosphere, very memorable characters, and excellent musical scores, so it was important to capture the strong themes in this game, and I think it succeeds.

In Horrified, you play townsfolk who must defeat monsters that are roaming the nearby streets & locations. It is a cooperative experience, so everyone will either win or lose together. The 7 monsters that you may encounter are:

  • Frankenstein
  • Bride of Frankenstein
  • Wolf Man
  • Dracula
  • The Mummy
  • The Invisible Man
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon

Each monster behaves differently and must be defeated in a unique way. The objective and tasks that must be completed are laid out on the well-designed monster boards. Items will appear throughout the town and they are the most important commodity. They not only help you defend against monster attacks, but they are the main way to advance toward each monster’s objectives. Villagers will also appear throughout the game, and if you band together and guide them to their destinations, they will reward you with Perk cards, which can provide very valuable abilities at crucial moments in the game.

For Frankenstein & The Bride, their humanity meters must be full when they meet each other
Dracula has 4 coffins spread out around the town. You must smash all 4 then use 6+ strength of spiritual items to defeat him

Your turn consists of an action phase, then a monster phase. The amount of actions you can take are listed on your player token. Some players also have a special ability. The actions are:

  • Move
  • Guide (Moving Villagers)
  • Pick Up (Picking up items)
  • Share
  • Advance (Performing monster’s task)
  • Special Ability
  • Defeat
Heroes

After you perform all your actions, the monsters take the stage. Turn over the monster card and follow its instructions. The monster card shows a few things. First, it shows a certain number of items that will be drawn from the bag and placed on the board. Next, there will be an event. If the event does not pertain to a monster in your current game, just disregard. But if it does, it can swing the game in the monsters’ favor in unexpected ways.

Lastly, the monsters move & attack. If a monster’s symbol is on the bottom of the card, they move the specified number of spaces and attack with the number of dice shown if they land in a character’s space. If you cannot or don’t wish to discard enough items to defend, then you are momentarily defeated and must restart at the hospital. If a Villager is attacked then they are unable to defend and are automatically defeated.

The Creature lurking in the waters, ready to pounce on the Archaeologist. The Creature from the Black Lagoon is cool because he is the only monster who can use the waterways of the town.

What is the big deal about being defeated after all? Well, there’s this little thing at the top of the board called the Terror Track. Each time a hero or a Villager gets defeated, the Terror Track increases by 1. If it ever hits 7, everyone loses. Also, if the Monster Deck is depleted, you also lose (this effectively means you’ve run out of time). There’s only 1 way to win though: defeat all monsters!

Horrified is the best game I’ve played in awhile. I was already very attracted to the theme, and it delivered on all fronts. The tension is well-balanced, like a strategic tug of war between the heroes & monsters. Each monster feels incredibly different and the events can be game-changers. The rules are simple, so it’s easy to dive right in and smoothly adventure through the game. It also enhances it to roleplay a bit too. In my last game, I was able to defeat Dracula with 2 stakes to the heart, for instance. Then, an event drew Lucy the Villager away from our protection and she was defeated right away. It was fun to imagine why she would have gotten so spooked. We were yelling, “No, Lucy! What are you doing?!”

The components, though nothing too fancy (no metal or wood, etc) are good. But above the actual material, the aesthetic choices & art are excellent I think, and really elevate the experience. I would also recommend playing with a classic creepy soundtrack too.

You should know already if you would like the theme. So if you have any doubts about the gameplay itself, I can confidently recommend it. It has a solid cooperative design akin to something like the popular board game Pandemic, only with the Universal Monster theme. Excellent!

A Wickedly Good Time

The base game comes with (from left to right) Maleficent, Prince John, Captain Hook, Queen of Hearts, Jafar, & Ursula.

One game that we like in our house is Disney Villainous. It flips the typical gaming narrative on its head. This time, YOU are the bad guy. And whoever can complete their unique objective first wins the game!

Play Area – Here, the Evil Queen is preparing to defeat Snow White by getting her to take a bite from a poison apple.

Each villain has a completely different goal, but everyone is simultaneously racing to try to accomplish them. It’s not a multiplayer solitaire situation though. There is some dastardly player interaction. But here again, the script is flipped. In order to mess with the other villains around the table, you play Heroes into their world to thwart their wicked plans. These white-bordered cards are from what is called the Fate deck, and they can be played whenever you take that action at a location.

Examples of Fate cards from Jafar’s set. Very familiar if you have seen Aladdin.
Examples from the Villain’s deck

Each villain has a deck of their own though, of course. These cards are what you use to progress toward your goal or to defeat the heroes at your locations. It is in your best interest to do this because the heroes cover the top half of your location and prevent you from performing those actions until they are defeated. What are the actions?

  • Gain Power
  • Play a Card
  • Activate
  • Fate
  • Move an Item or Ally
  • Move a Hero
  • Vanquish
  • Discard Cards

What do most villains in the Disney universe (or any universe) mostly want? Power. In this game, Power is the main currency, and allows you to pay for cards and do other things based on which villain you play as. Some cards that you play have a special ability that requires you to “Activate” it with that action. And I mentioned how the Fate deck is comprised of the good guys that other players can play to your area to thwart you. So if you take the Fate action at your location, that lets you do that to others on your turn.

The Cauldron of Power

In order to defeat heroes, you must perform the Vanquish action, and compare any Allies that you’ve played to that location to the Hero that you wish to defeat. If your strength is equal to or greater than the Hero, they are vanquished and removed from your board. This then frees up the covered actions once again.

Thoughts

Villainous is a solid game. If you grew up watching Disney films and/or enjoy them with your kids, it enhances the experience that much more. The rule that you cannot just stay at the location where you are on your turn is a good, much-needed aspect that keeps you on the move, and makes the decision-making a bit more interesting. It is not heavy strategy. You more or less know what must be done on each turn, but the interaction of dealing with Heroes really acts as…unfortunate interruptions to your dastardly plans, amps up the tactics, and makes it feel like you are walking in the villain’s shoes a bit.

Concerning the production quality, it is excellent. Art is from the movies, but it’s like they made it look even better. I like the designs on the backs of each villain’s deck (it would honestly make great posters). The only thing that could have been better for me is if they made the cauldron a bit more solid. It just feels like cheap thin plastic.

Expansions

If you like the game, I REALLY recommend the expansions that have been released. The more the merrier. Or wickeder.

The Wicked to the Core expansion features The Evil Queen, Hades, and Dr. Facilier
The Evil Comes Prepared expansion comes with Scar, Rattigan, & Yzma
The Perfectly Wretched expansion includes Cruella De Vil, Pete, and Mother Gothel
The most recent release, the Despicable Plots expansion includes Gaston, Lady Tremaine (from Cinderella), and The Horned King (from The Black Cauldron)

FlowerFall

Check out this quirky game!

In FlowerFall, you literally let your flower cards fall on the table, trying to claim as many points (represented as neutral green flowers) as you can.

This fun & unpredictable little game is an ingenious design from Carl Chudyk. Many board game hobbyists have heard of Chudyk’s games Glory to Rome or Innovation, but what about this more under-the-radar entry?

The grey player wins this field worth 5 points, as they have the majority over white.

It’s quick and action-oriented, which even my young son really enjoys. On the back of each card are 5 neutral green flowers, so you can drop it on either side depending on your intentions. Sometimes, the card flips or glides in a weird way, which makes it interesting. No matter how skilled you might get at it, there will always be a level of unpredictability and moments where turn order is important. It is a simple and effective idea.

How it looks in action. You must drop the cards from eye-level.
The finished game just looks like a game of 52-card pickup!

2 Quick, Vibrant Family Games

We played a couple good family games tonight that are enjoyable by both kids & adults.

First, a sweet speed game called Fast Flip, where you turn over a card and then grab the proper token as fast as you can. Great for flexing your visual perception & processing, and just hectically fun. If you flip a fruit, then you have to grab the NUMBER token that matches how many times that fruit appears on the card. If u flip a number, then you have to grab the FRUIT token that appears on the card that many times. The cards are designed so that there is only ever 1 correct answer.

Next, a dice game called A Fistful of Penguins that is excellent at teaching math! The animals on the dice either score or cancel each other out in various ways, but you can use your penguins to maintain at least some control to reroll your dice & push your luck.

For kids, you can’t go wrong with the vibrant design and the animal & fruit themes.

Fast Flip on Amazon:

https://amzn.to/3dhlQZv

A Fistful of Dollars on Amazon:

https://amzn.to/3dgzXOy

Gaming with a Purpose:

The Jack Vasel Memorial Fund


Website: https://jackvasel.org

When times of tragedy or hardship hit, there is rarely an easy resolution. Sometimes the only thing we can do is to come alongside those who have experienced loss, show them love, and help ease the load.

I wanted to link the website for the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund firstly, so you could read for yourself what their mission is. Tom Vasel is one of the most prominent figures in the board gaming hobby, and when he experienced the loss of his newborn son, Jack, he was overwhelmed with the generosity and love from the community during that very difficult time. Now, almost 10 years later, Jack’s legacy lives on as the Fund has been able to help many families during similar times of hardship.

Currently on BoardGameGeek, the Fund’s annual auction is live: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/270163/jack-vasel-memorial-fund-auction-2020-march-16-apr

More board games are added to the auction every day, and if you win, you not only get a good game, but you also help out a great cause. The Fund also accepts direct donations as well of course. During these uncertain times, you may not be able to give anything financially and that is totally understandable! At the least, please consider sharing with your fellow gamer friends. No doubt there will be a lot of people this year and next affected by what is going on who could greatly benefit from the Fund.

Fog of Love

At a Glance: Fog of Love is a perfect experience for couples that plays out a bit like a Romantic Comedy.

I’d like to share a unique game that we played for Valentine’s Day a few weeks ago…

Fog of Love is a storytelling, role-playing game for 2 players that takes you through the ups and downs of a fictional relationship. The game centers around scenes played from each other’s hands, and the choices that they provide. Each choice you make through the game will affect and/or reveal your personality, and both players are attempting to fulfill their ultimate goals for the relationship (known as Destinies), but the enjoyment is found on the road it takes to get there.

Each player controls a character, male or female, and much of the fun is found in creating these fictional characters. Their character card keeps track of Satisfaction (shown as heart symbols). First, players are dealt 5 Trait cards and must keep 3 of them. These are kept secret throughout the game, and always contain a goal related to the personality aspects shown across the board. These aspects have a positive and negative side, and through the playing of Scene cards, players will be placing markers to balance these aspects toward their individual or shared goals. Each player has an Occupation that they choose from 3 options, and then players choose 3 Features for the other player that they noticed the first time they met. Players are encouraged to roleplay a bit and expound on those characteristics that drew them to each other. Once the characters are created (and named of course!), the game begins.

Fog of Love is played within the structure of a particular Scenario that the players choose beforehand. The base game comes with a few to choose from already, each coming with their own predominant flavors (Sweet, Serious, or Dramatic) and new cards to add to the Scene decks. On your turn, you play a Scene from your hand and follow the prompt. The Scene provides some flavor text or dialogue, and then the players usually must make a choice. Sometimes it is a decision that both players make, sometimes it is just for the partner to decide. Then players reveal their choices and resolve the Scene. This usually results in markers being placed on personality aspects on the board. The Aspects are Discipline, Curiosity, Extroversion, Sensitivity, Gentleness, and Sincerity. Each Aspect has a positive and negative side to it, so if your character has more markers on the upper side of Gentleness, they will be cooperative and forgiving. If your character has more markers on the lower side, they will be rough, antagonistic, and stubborn. Where players’ markers are on these Aspects is extremely important, as this will determine if Traits and Destinies are successful.

The Destiny is the secret, overarching goal for each player that will determine if they are ultimately satisfied. There are several completely different avenues to take, depending on how the relationship is going. Maybe you will only be happy if you both are equal partners. Or maybe your character is selfish and wants to be dominant. Perhaps your character sees Unconditional Love as something to be attained. Whatever you end up pursuing, this will drive your decision-making until the very end, and it is also in your best interest to be mindful of what your partner’s Destiny might be. Otherwise, you may find yourselves on entirely different pages. As far as the ending, it is possible that you will break up if things go poorly enough, though this is not possible during the first couple scenarios. And ultimately it is up to you, as you could simply choose not to include those possible outcomes. The game is nicely customizable that way, and even when things don’t turn out the way you expect or want, that just makes the narrative that much more interesting. To use a cliched phrase, it is more about the journey than the destination.

Fog of Love is truly a groundbreaking experience that transcends what is typically expected in a “board game”. I like how the game handles the role-playing aspect in a different way. It is not about leveling up, so to speak, but rather about making decisions that stay true to your character and support your partner. The “acting” is not extreme, so I think even if you are a little uncomfortable playing a fictional character, the amount of immersion is up to you. You are not required to commit that much to it. It is funny to install yourself into your character as you answer lighthearted questions like “How should the toilet paper be placed on the roll?” Do you know how tough it is for me not to say “over the top”?! As the more serious, and even bordering on emotional scenes come into play, your characters become somewhat alive, and when you catch yourself becoming emotionally invested in this hypothetical couple, you know you’ve struck something special in a board game.

As the conventional definition and expectation of a “board game” widens, I am more and more amazed at what is out there. Fog of Love embodies the future of what gaming could and should be. I enjoy gaming because it promotes organic interaction among families and friends. So when something like Fog of Love can present emotional, psychological, and relational themes like it does, I must recommend it wholeheartedly for couples who are interested in a unique experience.

The sophistication of the design is matched with the aesthetics. The overall presentation and color scheme are appealing and the components are great quality. My favorite pieces are the weighty poker chips that are used to secretly answer the questions. The wooden personality markers are also nice and functional, and they include the larger denominations of 5’s as well, which can be helpful. There have already been expansions released, so the game becomes even more customizable and replayable if you wish.

Check it out: https://amzn.to/2EOHGpb


About Me

Hi, my name is Ben, and I like board games.

My love for gaming began when I was a small child — Battleship, Dizzy Dizzy Dinosaur, Card Games, Sorry!, and many others. I was actually more competitive in those days. Sometimes I would cry if I was losing, and my sisters would sternly threaten to “never play games ever again with me” if I didn’t stop crying. So I would say, while wiping away the tears, “I’m OK, I’m OK, let’s play”.

I was a teenager when I realized that playing board games could actually be a legitimate hobby. We had a group of friends who introduced my wife and I to games like Betrayal at House on the Hill, The Settlers of Catan, and Ticket to Ride. And since I had long since stopped crying when I lost, they were much more enjoyable, no matter what the result was. Playing games are and should be fun from start to finish.

Today, I am overwhelmed by how many great games are out there, including many that the average person is not even aware of. The tabletop gaming hobby is exceptionally vast and it is exciting to know that even though I have played hundreds of good to great games, there are THOUSANDS more I have not played and probably never will play. The purpose of this blog is to spread the love of gaming around just a bit, make people aware of games they have never heard of, that may become some of their family’s favorites.

No matter your age, no matter your gender, no matter your background, no matter the size of your bank account…There’s a board game for everyone.

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[I receive a small percentage of sales from the Amazon links of the games I highlight]