Gameday First Play – Shadow Hunters
Hidden role games are always fun at Games Days.
Shadow Hunters is a survival board game set in a devil-filled forest in which three groups of characters – the Shadows, creatures of the night; the Hunters, humans who try to destroy supernatural creatures; and the Neutrals, civilians caught in the middle of this ancient battle – struggle against each other to survive.
You belong to one of these groups and must conceal your identity from others since you don’t know who you can trust – at least not initially. Over time, though, someone might decipher who you are through your actions or through Hermit cards, or you might even reveal yourself to use your special ability.
The key to victory is to identify your allies and enemies early because once your identity is revealed, your enemies will attack without impunity using their special abilities like Demolish, Teleport, and Suck Blood or equipment cards such as the Rusty Broad Ax or Fortune Brooch. This ancient battle comes to a head and only one group will stand victorious – or a civilian, in the right circumstances, might claim victory.
This game has player elimination AND dice rolling which I’m not a fan of but it kinda works in this setting.
Everyone is given a random role out of an even number of Shadows and Hunters plus a number of Neutrals.
- Shadows – Win when all the Hunters die
- Hunters – Win when all the Shadows die
- Neutrals – Have their own victory goal
Having hidden roles AND players with different goals works really really well and keeps you guessing. Unlike Avalon where you wither want to succeed or fail a mission, adding the neutrals gives the game an extra twist where one role may need to survive until the game ends, another one just needs to die first to win.
So you roll dice and go to a space on the board that has an ability, these spaces are randomly placed at the start of the game. Although the numbers you need to roll to go to each location are the same, they are placed in random groups of two so each game will be slightly different. The locations are…
- White – Church – Generally Armour or Healing
- Black – Cemetery – Generally Equipment
- Purple – Underworld Gate – Choose a White, Black or Green Card
- Brown – Alter – Steal an equipment from another player
- Gray – Weird Woods – Deal 2 damage to a player or Heal 1 damage for a layer
- Green – Hunters Gate – Gain information on other players
Rolling a 7 allows you to pick any location.
One thing I really liked were the Hunters Gate cards that you draw, read, and give to a allow you to secretly gain information about a players role. It will say something like “I bet you’re a Hunter, if not take 1 damage”. That player will take a damage or not. Either way you have some knowledge about them. The other players know something happened but have no idea what it was. This is a great part of the game.
I didn’t read all the character cards but I believe one of the neutral characters is allowed to lie when given a Hunters Card, sneaky 🙂
I mentioned that the location cards are randomly placed in different pairs. This is because after you play the action for that location, you can attack someone on your current pair of location cards. You roll a D6 and a D4 and deal D6-D4 damage so 0 damage per attack is common. As the health of the toughest character is 14, the max of 5 damage is devastating.
Weapons add to this damage and I had a gun that means I could attack anyone that ‘wasn’t’ at my location.
So you keep your character face down until death but you can ‘reveal’ it to use it’s special ability if you want to. I had Franklin who I could reveal to do D6 damage to any player, I used this to take a Shadow out the game.
To keep player information secret, you take damage starting a 0 and moving up a track. The life track has each character represented (The purplish “F” in the case of Franklin) on it and when you reach your place on the life counter track you reveal your character, announce you’re dead and sit out the rest of the game.
Player elimination sucks but the games are short so it’s not a big deal.
I enjoyed it, I’m hoping to play it again with a Neutral character at some point to see how things work out.