Board Game Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Looking for a new game you can play with three or more people quickly and easily? Enjoy the card game Mafia? What I'm reviewing today is a game that's easily picked up, unique, not at all expensive, and is fast paced, allowing you to start and finish a game in under ten minutes, allowing it to be played with different results again and again. Welcome to One Night Ultimate Werewolf
What is it?
One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a party board game that can be played by at least 3-5 people with numbers that soar with each additional expansion (but we'll be talking about the base game only today, meaning you can play with up to 13 players). There are (roughly) two teams, the Villagers and the Werewolves. It's a social game with the only chance being left to what cards players will draw that determine their starting roles. During the 'Night' phase, everyone's cards are incredibly likely to change when their eyes are closed, and when the 'Night' ends, no one's allowed to look at anyone's cards, including their own, until the votes have been cast. The Villagers will attempt to kill a Werewolf player by majority voting while the Werewolves will attempt to sway votes onto another player.
The meat of the game comes from your social interactions. You will lie, tell the truth, withhold the truth, negotiate, and so forth to convince people of your opinion. Werewolves will know who the other werewolves are and shouldn't vote for each other while claiming to be something that's not a Werewolf (unless you're trying to confuse people by claiming to be a Werewolf but that's your choice). The rest of the players should use process of elimination to figure out what happened in the night, which story seems to be the most truthful, or which players can't seem to defend their position. There is no right or wrong way to play.
What do the cards mean?
Most of the cards all have different abilities or traits to make the big social puzzle that is the game.
- Werewolves should know who the other one is, or in the case of a single player being a Werewolf, they can look at one of the center cards.
- Similarly, two Mason players wake during the night and verify the other.
- A Robber switches their card with another player and looks at their new card. If it's a Werewolf card, they now no longer are on the Villager's team.
- The Minion gets to see who the Werewolves are (they put their thumbs up but their eyes remain closed) and plays to help the Werewolves win (dying if need be).
- The Tanner, a most unique card, only wins by convincing others to vote and kill him, apparently because he hates his job and doesn't care about killing werewolves.
There are a few cards that do not wake during the night (vanilla Villagers who have no abilities, the aforementioned Tanner, and the Hunter who can take another player with him if he dies). There are other cards I didn't describe but I don't want to give the whole game away as I encourage you to obtain it for yourself.
Each night has a regular order. Werewolves typically go first, followed by the Minion, the Masons, all the way to the end with the Insomniac. Players can recreate the game by following the order on the tokens that represent the cards, figuring out whose card was switched with who at what time. This is important as a single card might be traded between three different players in a game with the Robber, Troublemaker, and Drunk classes.
The tokens also serve as a way to keep track of who claims to be who or who the the group of players believe is a Werewolf, Minion, or Tanner. Since there is usually a set time limit to engage in the social aspect of the game, this helps stop revisiting the same topics in a single game.
It's got an App, too!
One of the best features of the game is that there's a free app you can download. It doesn't cost anything extra and so long as you set up the characters being used in the game, it runs smoothly and allows a player who would normally be a narrator to engage in the game. To boot, it helps new players. It will call out the card title and inform them to open their eyes before telling them their ability, reminding them what they should do. They will then be told to close their eyes and this repeats for each character cards.
The app also has multiple settings to manipulate the game as you see fit. In addition to including only the classes you're utilizing in the game, you can change the voice, the background noise, the amount of time each character gets during the 'Night' phase, the amount of time it takes to vote, and several additional settings on and off (such as everybody moving their cards around with their hands to prevent other people from noticing if their card was moved during the 'Night' or not).
The app is a little on the quiet side (at least on my Samsung Note 3) so I try to hook it up to my stereo system to help mask the sounds of people reaching to move cards around. Your phone might be a bit louder but it's something to consider nonetheless.
A Sample Game of One Night
The game is quick, and with the app is painless to set up and go. Anyone can play it and it can host large numbers of people as well. You can pick and choose who's included in the game, meaning if you don't like the Doppelganger or Tanner cards, you don't necessarily have to use them. There are a number of expansions that add new roles to the game, making your rounds even more customizable. Since most cards have a special ability (aside from the generic Villager), players feel more included in the game and not just another hand to add a vote at the end of the game. The game is only $15-20, depending on where you buy it from, and that makes it most one of the best bang-for-your-buck games I've ever purchased.
It really all boils down to the player you'll play with. Do they enjoy games, bluffing, and figuring out puzzles? Then yes, you really should get this. Do they lack a pulse, hate fun, and don't even like you to start with? Well, you've got other problems.
Have I peaked your interest in this game?
- party board game based on the card games Mafia and Werewolf
- hosts at least 3-5 players, up to 13 with the base set, and over 50 with all expansions
- As a free app that, while not necessary, greatly supplements the game
- game thrives on social interaction with skills like bluffing, negotiating, and manipulation
- Costs $15-20
- Features 4+ expansion sets that add even more roles to the original game
Right now this is the first standalone board game I've reviewed but I've got plenty more my wife and I possess so I'll be including links here as I add them. I've already written a considerable bit of material for the card game Munchkin, a massive selection of games that parodies various genres in a card based D&D style play full of backstabbing and manipulating your friends just to get ahead. It also has the options of tons of Custom Cards, so if you're interested in that, I've got more than a handful of cards that can spice up your games.