As part of the all week Halloween theme here at the blog, here is another game appropriate to this time of year.
This game also happens to be my most recent purchase having picked it up about a fortnight ago at the Belmont swap meet.
Allow me to introduce the Dark Shadows game.
Now, “Dark Shadows” is a television show that I have often heard about but never actually seen. I have heard it described as a supernatural soap opera starring a vampire so it sounds cool.
The board game upon first inspection looked to be a pretty cheap cash in. There was no board as such, just a large fold out playing sheet and some very half hearted playing pieces. For instance, you can be a candle, or a clock. Still, in Monopoly you can be a top hat so perhaps a clock is not that bad. At first I was thrown by there being no dice, which made me wonder if all the pieces were there, but a quick look at the instructions revealed that no dice was needed; just the playing cards. I haggled to have the game for $2, not expecting much, only thinking it would be good to have the game for the novelty factor.
My partner and I gave the game a quick run through. The play is interesting. All your moves are dictated by the cards that you can pick up. You have four cards dealt to you, and when it is your turn, you pick up another card from the deck. You now must discard one card to have four cards again, and hopefully with the card you throw out you use it to move. Each step along the board corresponds to an aspect of the cards. It could be the colour of the card, red or black; the symbol on the card, such as a spider or a bat, or the number on the card. Say you have a black spider card with a 1 on it. If the square in front of you is either black, has a spider on it or a number 1, then you can move. Sometimes this means that you are picking up cards and are not moving for some time, but the same can easily happen to your opponent. When we played it my partner didn’t move from the start position until she had picked up cards 5 times. Later, I lost with only a few steps to go because I could not pick up the card I needed and my partner did and just sailed right past me to win.
I thought that the game could take hours but with two of us we raced thru it in under half an hour and never once noticed the time. We were engrossed, trying to take advantage of the shortcuts that rely on having three in a row of the same card. Do you save up for that or take a chance that you will draw those cards?
Really, it might look like a cheap game, with a ‘fold up like a road map’ type of playing sheet, but this really is a game that draws you in and provides plenty to look at, since the illustrations are great. For instance, the card symbol for the glass has a skull in the wine so my partner called it the Skulled Wine card, which I thought was pretty funny. Also the pictures for the pick up and discard pile are a treat so it is a pity that they get covered.
I’m giving this game 4 dice. It is an absorbing and fun game with unpredictable play and lots of cool visual stuff to look at.