A game of lies, deception, and mistrust, and probably the death of an innocent villager
Players: 3 – 10 Best with: 8 – 10
Age: 8+ GN Age: Teen
Game Type: Party Time: 10 minutes
Publisher/Year: Bezier Games – 2014
Game Play: Deception, Deduction
Score: out of 12
Your village has become infested with werewolves. Will you survive the night? Or will you become its next victim?
You are all villagers in a small, presumably, medieval town. However, at least one of you is a lycanthrope; a werewolf cursed to hunt and feed off your fellow townsfolk. Over the course of one night, while the village sleeps, secrets will be revealed, identities will be stolen, and as all good medieval villages should have, there’ll be a lynching in the morning.
At the start of the game, everyone draws one villager card. Who you are determines what action, if any, you do during the night. Then the village falls asleep, with the ground-breaking game mechanic of having the players close their eyes. No peeking! Throughout the “night”, some players wake up when instructed to do so, complete an action and go back to sleep.
For example: the Werewolf learns who the other werewolf is to help protect the pack. The Seer gets to peek at another characters identity. The Robber switches his identity with another. The Troublemaker swaps any two players cards for a little chaos. Meanwhile, the Villager sleeps through the night, has no idea what’s going on, and usually has a lousy game.
Once all actions are taken, everybody wakes up and the real game begins. Now everybody talks about what occurred during the night and you try to ferret out the werewolves. The Villagers win if they learn the identity of any Werewolf and kill it. The Werewolves win if neither of them is killed. Let the interrogations, lies, and accusations commence.
Of course, the Werewolves have to lie and pretend to be an innocent villager. But the villagers have to lie or, more precisely, be very hesitant to reveal the truth. Because it is very likely that your identity switched during the night, and you might not be playing the villager you think you are. You can start the game as an innocent villager and end as a blood-curdling monster. Another dilemma is that nobody will believe what anybody else says. They’re all a bunch of liars. Your so-called friends. Hah!
Deception and bluffing games are all the rage right now, (or is that so 2018?) and this is one of the best. It’s easy to learn and quick to play. Since the games are short, the deceit comes off as playful, not malicious. As opposed to “Diplomacy” where the deceit and backstabbing can end life-long friendships. Plus, you’ll get to play another round and this time you’ll be the one that does the betraying. (Insert maniacal laugh here.)
So, is the game good? Yes, and no. We found that the game was boring with 3 – 5 people. The game just didn’t have enough variety of actions to be entertaining. And if you got stuck as a boring Villager, the game sucks. And if you get stuck as a boring Villager, 3 times in a row, the game really sucks.
Once you have 6 or more people, the game is a lot of fun. 8 or more people, and the game is great. One of the best party games, full of false accusations, mistrust, confusion, and laughing. Lots of laughing.
Yesterday, we had our son’s birthday party. Near the end, we played One Night. Ten people, adults and kids, playing. It was a riot. Nobody wanted to stop. Moms were picking their kids up, and they were begging to stay for just one more round. Everyone had a blast. Except the player stuck playing the Villager. That guy still sucks.
There is one caveat. Most of the kids were 13. They loved the game, including our son, Andrew. But the 11-year-olds did not love the game. They did not like the element of deception. They just could not lie effectively. Especially my other son, James. He does not like to play this game. However, he did enjoy being the moderator, keeping everyone honest, when they’re supposed to be sleeping.
The running of the game is another sorta criticism. There is a very specific order in which the villagers must wake up. This requires someone to be the announcer of the game, telling people when to wake up, what action to do, in what order and keep track of time, all while keeping his own eyes shut as well. A very difficult task.
Unless you download the Ultimate Werewolf app to your smartphone!… It’s free!… It’s fun!… It’s… Enough already! I am suspicious and cynical by design (work environment, long story, maybe someday). Whenever anything tells me that in order for me to “properly” enjoy the thing I paid for, (ie. this game), that I have to get, do, or buy something else, then my warning bells start ringing.
My fears and suspicions are unfounded. The app is great, and really keeps the game moving. The app also includes all of the expansion packs and alternate scenarios that can be played separately or in conjunction with the base game. We have the Daybreak box which adds 11 new villagers into the chaos. We can’t wait to play this expansion.
One last point. The game is rated for ages 8+. Absolutely that age can understand how the game works. But the core of this game is all about lying. Yes, many kids, like ours, have already learned how to manipulate adults. But most don’t want to be forced to lie directly.
I’m sure that the Paul Ekman Group (huge fan, BTW) can dissect at length about all the micro expressions and social ramifications that a game like One Night embodies. But as a parent, ask yourself: Do I want to teach my child how to lie? Is lying supposed to be fun? Is being dishonest sometimes, necessary?
For us, while One Night can be played with children and preteens, we feel that the most enjoyment comes from playing with teens and adults. But do buy this game, and play with your adult friends. And wait for the day that your children have no problem lying directly to your face.
As always, no handstands on top of Stiles’ wolfmobile, and Game On!
Most lies succeed because no one goes through the work to figure out how to catch them – Paul Ekman