Werewolves & In-Laws

werewolfMy mother-in-law is a terrible liar. I only learned this recently, and it came as a bit of surprise.

For one thing, one of her favorite phrases is, "Let's just lie ..." She says this when she can't remember a fact.

She'll make it up so she can move on to the point of her story.

But when she's trying to lie, it's totally different — and really funny.

My parents-in-law came to visit a couple of weeks ago, and I had coerced them into playing three different Werewolf games so I could review them.

Okay, they graciously agreed, but what else were they going to do? I hold the power of access to the grandchildren. (That's a joke. Please delete that angry email you started writing.)

Over the course of two nights, we played One Night Ultimate Werewolf, One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak (hereafter referred to as Daybreak because I don't want to keep typing all that), and then moved onto Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition.

We played each game more than once. In all but one game, my mother-in-law was a werewolf.

This didn't keep my father-in-law from accusing me early on, which made me practically spit water on the floor I was laughing so hard, which made him think I really was a werewolf.

The truth is, I'm a terrible liar, too. I was just lucky enough never to have to lie in any of the games.

Despite the awful lying and the circumventing of truth (and occasional mistakes in roles in Inquisition), we had a really good time.

And that is the point of every tabletop game. I've become convinced after a recent purchase of Castles of Mad King Ludwig that game designer Ted Alspach is a master of creating fun. And the testing the crap out of it until it's really, really fun.

Here's my review of Daybreak, which was originally published on News for ShoppersI'll be doing a comparison of four Ultimate Werewolf games and Werewolves of Miller's Hollow: The Pact. I'll link when I get that one up.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak is a standalone game for three to seven players from designer Ted Alspach and artist Gus Batts. From Bèzier Games, the deduction game takes 10 minutes to play and works for ages 8 and up.

It can also be combined with the base game One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which can support up to 10 players. For clarity, I'll refer to the newest game as Daybreak. It released last week and retails for $24.95.

How it works:

Draw three more cards than the number of players. There is one suggested scenario for the standalone game and several more when using it as an expansion. Players look at their own cards, then put them back down on the table. The three remaining cards are placed in the middle table, and no one gets to look at them.

Most of the players are either villagers or werewolves, and all have some special ability — such as looking at cards, moving cards around, or revealing a card.

The villagers want to eliminate the werewolves, and vice versa. During the night phase of the game, all the players close their eyes. A chosen moderator or the game's app tells each role to wake up and perform its action in turn. In the morning, the players set a timer and have to decide who's who, based on what they have or haven't seen, and who they believe. When the time is up, they vote for who they want to lynch. If a werewolf is killed, the villagers win. If not, the werewolves win.

Why you might buy Daybreak:

Daybreak adds 11 new roles to One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Some of them, like the Village Idiot, are just plain funny.

The game also adds a Curator role, which can put artifacts on a player's card, which can vary from not allowing a player to talk to turning a player into a werewolf.

The app for the game is superb. The voices are over-the-top funny, and they act as moderator, meaning everyone gets to play. In a small group, this is especially important. The app also has the option of background noise — though figuring out how to turn it on could be more intuitive. That helps keep people from hearing which cards are being turned over or moved.

The two guidebooks are clear and easy to understand. They make setting up and running a game simple, and they make it clear how each role works. The cards have names on them, so everyone knows who they are at the beginning of the game.

Daybreak gives the werewolf team a better shot, since each werewolf also has a special ability. That's a difference from the base game.

Unlike other Werewolf games, both One Night Ultimate Werewolf and Daybreak end after one turn, so no players are eliminated.

The discussion after the games at our table took longer than the games did, and there was plenty of laughter and finger-pointing to go around.

If you don't have One Night Ultimate Werewolf and want one of the games, Daybreak offers the most variety.

Why you might not buy Daybreak:

If you already have One Night Ultimate Werewolf and you're happy with the variety of roles, you might not need the extra ones in Daybreak.

If you play with a small number of people, some of the roles don't work quite as well. That said, the initial suggested setup is for a three-player game.

The artifacts didn't work as well as I had hoped they would in a four-player game, partly because the Curator who gives one out doesn't get to choose which one. That said, you can choose to take out some of the artifacts before the game starts. I believe they would work best in a game with more players.

If you don't like games where you have to lie, you should probably pass on any Werewolf game. Bluffing is the heart of the game. And you can be accused of being a liar when you're telling the truth.

My conclusions:

This game is solid fun.

I think it's a slight improvement on the already excellent One Night Ultimate Werewolf, although you could probably convince me the other way.

What I like most about both games is that because they are so short, people who might be tempted to hang back can't do so, and other players are going to draw them into the conversation, if only to save themselves.

It doesn't feel as vicious as other Werewolf games because there's no eating at night, and there's just one vote in the morning, so you don't have to contemplate that you've just killed your innocent friends. At least not for very long.

The game plays like a mini mystery. It's over fast, but don't expect to play just one game. There will be cries for more.

Full disclosure: I received review copies of One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, and Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition from Bèzier Games. I was not required to write a positive review. This is my honest opinion.

If you're interested in these or other games by Ted Alspach, they're available at Amazon.com, among other places. If you click on the ad below and buy there, I get a commission that helps me keep bringing you content like this.