These Werewolves Can At Least Keep Their Shirts On! - One Night Ultimate Werewolf Review

Once upon a time, there was a mass party game called Werewolf. And in that game a large group of villagers would discuss amongst themselves about who in their village was actually a werewolf in disguise. Every round someone would be killed off and play would continue in this manner until all the werewolves were discovered or the werewolves devoured enough people.

This was a marmite game for many because two main aspects of the game get referenced a lot. Firstly there’s the classic, frantic negotiations between players as they try to find out who the werewolves are or bluff and cause discord among the villagers. Always the best thing about the game, but on the flip side there’s the issue that players get eliminated throughout the game and when the game takes a long time to finish (when treating this as a mass player experience) it can spoil the experience for many.

I personally wasn’t a fan of Werewolf mainly for that elimination aspect and partially because every villager felt the same, there was no added chaos thrown in. Then Bezier Games announced One Night Ultimate Werewolf, a party style version where the game is done and dusted in less than 5-10 minutes, yet retains everything that was good about the original game. Adding player powers for the chaos factor and keeping it fixed to one round so that the elimination problem is. . . . . . well . . .  eliminated!

So at first glance it’s a party game re-working of Werewolf that keeps everything I like, fixes what I don’t like and adds bonus elements (player powers). Sounds like a great game to sink my teeth into……………ok that was really poor, I apologise now!


"An added bonus is that the box isn’t bloated – nice and compact"


Designer: Ted Alspach
Publisher: Bezier Games
# of Players: 3-10
Ages: 10+
Play Time: 5-10 Minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: 105 / 8.33

  
A Wolf In Human’s Clothing

The premise of the game is much like Werewolf. It’s a team vs team game of villagers vs werewolves. The villagers must eliminate at least one werewolf and the werewolves must survive. Each player will be dealt a tile with a special role in secret and three other roles will be hidden in the centre of the table. Every role has a special ability that affects the game.

In classic “Resistance/Werewolf” style, the players will close their eyes for the night phase and then the companion app (more on that later) will dictate when players should open their eyes and perform actions based on their roles. Some will recognise other players, some will swap tiles around, some won’t do anything and instead have a special rule for the day phase, etc.

Once the night time phase ends, day begins and all players open their eyes and then have a pre-determined amount of time to debate and argue amongst themselves as to who they think is the werewolf. Bluffing and deduction is critical to this game as you only get one chance to get it right. Once the time elapses, everyone will simultaneously vote for who they wish to execute. Whoever has the most votes is killed off and that person will reveal whether they are a villager or a werewolf.


Werewolves Keeping Up With Modern Technology

"The app is near flawless and I would say a mandatory addition to the game"

Let’s begin first with the app. It is possible to play this game without the app but I can’t for the life of me figure out why you would. There’s a lot of roles to remember, you have to get the timing exactly right and by the end of a large game you won’t have a voice left to argue with. The app takes you through the entire night time phase with precise clarity narrated by none other than Eric Summerer of Dice Tower fame. This is someone who does audiobooks/narration for a living and it shows – you can pick out every word crystal clear and he uses the same voice as he does on the Tales of BoardGaming Horror if you listen to the podcast. All you do is pick your roles and off you go.

This helps to get new players to understand what’s happening – they only have to focus on their one role and the app gives them time to absorb what’s been said and act upon it without any room for ambiguity. To disguise the sound of moving tiles the app has ambient sound effects that can be played to hide the noise. Originally this wasn’t that effective but it’s since been updated with a variety of sounds (card shuffling is particularly good for this purpose) and even an additional female voice, though Eric’s is clearer in my humble opinion.

The app is free and quick to download and prepares you for the Daybreak expansion, which I’ll get on to in another short review another day.


You’d Think They Almost Want The Werewolves To Win

The roles are varied and cause no shortage of chaos amongst the players during the night phase and beyond. Some basic villagers are available for a tutorial game where they have no extra actions to perform but once you’ve had a game with those, you’re scrapping them and playing with the fun villagers because this has a very shallow learning curve, almost a horizontal line.


 "Includes Daybreak but even without, there's plenty of roles available"

Most of them are pretty easy to grasp – swap two tiles, look at other awoken players, look at a tile, etc. The only tricky one of the bunch is the Doppelganger who is a fun role to include, but really does require a few games to really get to grips with each role’s power before-hand so avoid with new players.
The tiles are quality and sturdy with good, cartoony artwork across the range. Maybe it might have been good to have put a one sentence summary of the role’s power on each card, but I guess with the app it’s a little redundant. To add assistance in the game, there are also some tokens for each role that players can use to represent themselves or others later that also state which order they act in during the night, which are extremely useful.

"Assistance tokens - mostly used for accusing others of being a werewolf!"


The Salem Werewolf Trials

The real bread and butter of One Night Ultimate Werewolf is down to the day phase where everyone wakes up and starts arguing. And it’s an absolute blast. The second those eyes open, the accusations start flying with everyone trying to pick holes in stories and rely on pure bluffing and negotiation tactics to convince the other players. It’s pure mayhem with a capital “M” and you can’t afford to sit back and be quiet as it’s just going to look suspicious.

In fact I’m not sure it’s possible to be quiet in this game. When I’m playing this, my hyperactivity goes through the roof and I’m involved arguing my point and enjoying every second. The banter and laughter is intoxicating and addictive and this is how a party game should play out. I never get a dull experience in all the games I’ve played and the most common question that is raised at the end is “can we play again”?

The game can be chaotic with the roles particularly with swapping tiles around. It’s entirely possible to have started out as a werewolf and then subsequently be cured by having your tile swapped out and vice versa. This is especially hilarious when the player is unaware that his role has changed and he finds out at the end that they’ve been rooting for the wrong team.

And if two teams weren’t enough, we have a neutral team in the form of the Tanner. A special role that can be used who actually wants to die due to being fed up with his job. If he gets himself executed, he wins by himself. And he’s almost a mandatory inclusion in large games because now the other players have to be concerned that they might accidentally kill him off upping the tension factor and putting a whole new twist on the phrase “second guessing yourself”. My most recent game last night actually involved a 10 player setup where I won as the Tanner after everyone voted for me and it’s highly satisfying to pull off a victory like that.

"Four player setup"

The post-game discussion is half of the fun and sometimes takes longer than the actual game does. Once everyone has revealed who they are, the realisations and stories come out in spades with yet more laughter ensuing from seeing how players made mistakes or performed the ultimate bluff. This is a game that will produce memories that stay in your mind for the future.


Verdict

………drool………drool………no I’m not a Werewolf, but I would happily become one if it meant I could play this game every night! I don’t just think this is one of the best games of 2014, nor the best party game, I feel this is one of the best games I’ve ever played. We’re talking on the levels of Sentinels of the Multiverse for me, enough to earn the coveted 10 rating on my BoardGameGeek profile.
It takes the best of Werewolf and condenses it into no more than 5-10 minutes per game. All the chaos and frantic negotiations and bluffing tactics but without the drawbacks. The app is an essential companion to the game, with Eric Summerer conducting the night phase with ease and clarity whether on a tablet or a mobile phone, though a Bluetooth speaker would be an added bonus for noisy pubs. There’s a good amount of variety in the roles and with an expansion already out (review to follow) there’s even more scope for chaos.
It’s not for everyone I admit, if negotiation games aren’t your thing or if you don’t like chaos, then it’s unlikely to appeal to you. But if you are a fan of the genre, you cannot afford to miss out on this – One Night Ultimate Werewolf is fun in its purest form, squeezed out of the passion fruit of gaming, served with ice. Enjoy!

You Will Like This Game If:

  • You enjoy bluffing/negotiation games – that is the focus here.
  • You have a large gaming group – with 6+ players this really shines.
  • You want to teach it easily to new players – the app does all the hard work.

You Will Not Like This Game If:


  • You don’t like too much chaos. Some roles cause a lot of mayhem in the group.
  • You’re generally very quiet or introverted – it’s good to get involved.
  • You don’t like bluffing/negotiation games – yeah it’s cheesy to simply flip the point on its head, but honestly I can’t think of many reasons not to like this.

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