I’ll be the first to admit that I’m generally a fan of Ted Alspach’s Ultimate Werewolf. It’s my favorite of the many published varieties of Werewolf/Mafia out there. At the same time, I’ve never been shy about stealing ideas from other games. I collect Werewolf varieties, and will borrow interesting mechanics if I think it adds something.
One of those games that I find interesting is The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow. I generally like the style of the artwork, and they have some interesting characters. The thing I do NOT like about this version is that the cards don’t have any text on them, and the artwork is highly stylized. To my mind, this is a recipe for confusion, and there’s nothing worse than a game getting messed up because a player doesn’t understand what role he is. (And by the nature of the game, if there is such confusion, it’s very difficult for players to ask for clarification without giving themselves away. (I think the publisher does this for the international market — all they need to do is swap out the rulebook to sell the product in other languages.)
Nonetheless, I’ve borrowed mechanics from Miller’s Hollow for my Werewolf game. Once in a while I pull out a subset of the “New Moon” event cards and throw them in. It’s a nice change of pace. But recently I got a copy of The Village, and I have to say I’m intrigued by the public role mechanic it brings to the game.
There are “buildings” that certain people live in, which grant them powers. For example, the Lord lives in the Manor House, and he has the once-per-game ability to grant a reprieve to a person who is about to be lynched (after the vote). That player is publicly known to be the Lord, and if he dies, somebody else moves in to the Manor and gains that role. Of course, that person also has a secret role, and could also be the Seer, or a Werewolf, a plain Villager, etc.
I’ve never used these rules before, and I think it will be interesting to see what happens. Will Werewolves quickly kill the special roles? Or will doing so reveal the werewolves? The fact that if a player dies, his public role can be filled by a new player also adds an interesting twist to the proceedings.
The actual game pieces are rather small, as the game assumes you’re playing around a table. I’ll be printing out large copies of the images and laminating them. I’m also adding the name of each building to the graphic, to avoid the aforementioned issues related to a lack of labels.
I’ll be running some games this weekend at a board game event I’m going to. I can’t wait to see how The Village plays.
Have any of you used this mechanic before? What do you think?