|Play Time:||45+ minutes (Play time varies depending on number of players)|
|Our Recommended Age:||8+ (Parent should review content and art to determine is suitable)|
I have finally found deck building game for horror fans in A Touch of Evil: Dark Gothic. It is based on the setting (which is colonial american gothic horror) of a board game called A Touch of Evil and has monster hunting Heroes, evil supernatural creatures and a co-op AND competitive at the same time way of playing. What more could you ask for in a game?
Dark Gothic is part cooperative and part every person for themselves kind of a game. No seriously you want to get the most Investigation Points but you also want to work WITH everyone else so that the Villain doesn’t actually win. That means that everyone can lose but only one person can win….I kind of love that really.
The game consists of cards…lots of them and one die. The die is pretty standard die with etched? carved? I STILL cannot remember the word! numbers and 2 skulls in white. Pretty cool looking actually and since it isn’t stickers it should last a long time. The cards are also standard card material so nothing special there but the art…that is something I have never seen.
The box has that one feature I so love…compartments for everything! Although in this case it has two large spaces with small separators on the bottoms and one smaller space with one separator for the Hero and Villain cards. Then one tiny place for the one die. Still…it is organized and I love that it isn’t just a big spacious box. My thoughts are that it leaves room for expansions…which I also love!
The Villain artwork is sort of like a sketch with only slight colors added for effect. It looks like someone drew them all in pen with a couple of water colors slightly added and it looks pretty neat. My son wants to draw them and thinks they are cool looking and my Diva says “ew gross” and pretends to be one of them.
The rest of the cards…those are the unique part. Each card, including the deck building cards, have a person on them. A real person in a costume with props…and it is a picture of them with a bit of Photoshop(probably) work added on top.
I love it! I love that they had people dress up as these characters and get into “character” and get pictures for this. I have never seen a game that did that and I am in love with it. There are a few more cards mixed in that are more artwork instead of pictures…which is good because that would mean gremlins and other creepy things were real…and that would be bad.
As I said the game is made up of one die and cards. Lots and lots of cards and of course different types of cards. I’ll briefly explain those before going on to the how to play part. I don’t want to explain every type of card and the instruction book does a great job of that as it is but I’ll try to cover the more important ones for you.
There are different types of cards you will use while playing. Your Start cards are what you start your deck with (Your Hero card will tell you what those are), Training cards which can be purchased and are slightly better than Start cards, but still helpful.You have Honor cards, which are like Wild “elements” and also give you a Draw a Card in your deck but they cannot be purchased…just sort of obtained while playing. Then there are Gear, which are just cards that can help, Ally cards are more helpful cards but are people, Location cards are also helpful cards and Events which are again helpful and allow things to happen when played.
Minion cards are enemies but not like the big bad kind..more like little bad and can be defeated if they show up in the Center Line and then acquired. There is a Common Minions that is set to the side and always available to fight and are kind of helpful for weeding out your deck. The Secret Cards are the bad cards that can be added to your deck and are worth negative points…so try not to get those.
The Shocking Discovery cards are actually more like shocking bad juju for whoever drew the card or in some cases to everyone… some that don’t go away until the current Villain is defeated…nice…The main cards though are the Hero and Villain cards so I’ll explain those a bit more.
Hero Cards: These are larger than most of the other cards and there is only one of each of them. These are your Hero, or monster hunter, cards and each has the list of cards that will make your starting deck along with any special ability your Hero has.
For example Isabella Von Took is able to discard any card from the players hand in order to block (which just means to ignore a Strike or Fight..which means defend against and attack) Also all Gear you purchase costs 1 (of any color) less to purchase.
There are 4 Female and 4 Male cards but don’t let that dictate which character you choose…assuming you get to choose. If you play normally a Hero card is randomly passed out and as my children remind those who mention not getting a “correct gender” card. “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” Ha! that one actually stuck with them…mostly anyway. What you want to focus on if you get to choose is the stats and abilities.
Villain Cards: These cards are the same size as the Hero cards but have scary, nasty creatures on them instead of people. There are 9 and each one is different. There is a cost to defeat it, any special abilities and the Global area which tells you what happens and what the conditions are for it to happen…yeah fun times when a Villain is around.
Now that you have a better understanding of the cards you are dealing with…and I explained more than I said I would but refuse to delete any of it..let’s get to the Setup and the How To parts shall we?
First take all the Gear, Ally, Event, Location and Minion Cards and “Shuffle the cards!” (I still say that in my head like Frau from Austin Powers…not sure why). Put the deck in the middleish area of the table so everyone can reach but leaf a little room to one side. The instruction book has a layout for the game and it is a good way to set it up actually.
Now everyone gets to randomly draw or be dealt Hero card. You COULD give everyone two and them choose one if you want but that is up to whoever owns the game or is hosting the game night…or however you want to choose.
Pass out the Start cards based on what each player’s Hero card says and then put the rest of the Start cards away along with any unused Hero cards.
Villains are up next! You will find a I II or III in the top right corner of the Villain cards. First take all the III and shuffle and choose one. Put it face down, no peeking! and do the same for the II and the I sets. The Villain with the I goes face up on top of the other two. Set this pile where all can see and reach but more at the end of the where the Center Line will be.
The Center Line will consist of 6 face up cards and be put to the left or right of the Main Deck with a Discard Pile on the opposite side of the Main Deck. You will flip over the top six cards of the Main Deck and lay them face up side by side with the first being next to the Main Deck. Any event cards do NOT trigger during these first 6 on the line but will later.
Then the Villain card goes at the end of this line with the Common Enemy card to the top or bottom of the Villain card. The remaining cards go to the right of these.
These should be the different Training cards, Honor cards and Dark secrets cards. The Shocking Discovery cards should be shuffled and placed face down along this same area.
Each player now draws 6 cards from their shuffled personal decks and rolls the Omen Die. Highest roll goes first then play clockwise and remember on this particular die that skull is a 0. Now it’s play time!
On your turn you can play the cards in your hand to try to get some cards from the Center Line, fight Villains or gain cards from the sidelines too. Sometimes you end up not able to do anything…welcome to most of my deck building game experience.
When you play a card simply lay it face up in front of you and then follow what it says. If you get 2 Green(Cunning) to spend or 1 Red(Combat) or another Draw or whatever it says you get to do it as soon as you put it down.
Once you are done playing all the cards you want and all the stuff happens that will happen on your turn based off of those or other cards put all your cards in your personal discard pile and draw 6 new cards from your personal deck. If you have no cards you must shuffle the discard pile and then draw.
The Resources, or color circles everywhere, are Combat (Red), Cunning (Green) and Spirit (Blue). The Silver one is like a wild Resource so you can use it as whatever you want or need at the time but only one color. There is no limit on the number of minions you can defeat or cards you can get except that of how many Resources you have to spend.
If you get a card from the Center Line put it in your discard pile and flip another from the Main deck in its place so there are always 6 cards there. If a card with Mystery text enters the Center Line (except that first time) it gets applied automatically to everyone.
On you turn you can also defeat a Villain, which is sort of the goal…well one of them anyway. Some Villains might have a Global effect that happens until that Villain is defeated…and some of it just plain sucks.
If you are lucky enough to defeat one it doesn’t go in your discard pile. Instead it goes under your Hero card to be counted at the end for points. The next Villain doesn’t get flipped until the end of the turn of the player who defeated the previous Villain and if that player defeated the third and final Villain the game is over.
There is also something called a Shadow pile that is an empty space next to the Villains that you don’t want to fill up. Some Villains as well as other cards have text stating conditions to put a card in the Shadows. It can be any card but if 10 cards go in the Shadows then you lose…yeah everyone loses. One Villain says to put the top card from the Main Deck in the Shadows when an Ally rolls the skull on the Omen Die! So yeah that’s bad. It only happened to us once so far though.
In the even that you survive as a group and defeat all three Villains then you must determine who the best Monster Hunter is. Do this by adding up the Investigation Points in your hand, deck and discard pile along with any Villains defeated.
The value is found in the bottom right of the cards and some can have a negative value for you to subtract instead…that always sucks. Player with the highest value wins and is declared the best Monster Hunter ever…or until the next game at least.
The Instruction Book lists two optional rules you can add to make the game slightly different. I mentioned the drawing 2 Heroes and choosing one option but you can also play fully cooperative instead of just mostly. I’ll let you read that for yourself though as we don’t usually play that way. It also includes a small FAQ for some the questions that usually come up based on cards, which is helpful.
On the back of the Instruction book are also credits…like you would put in a movie. Fantastic! They tell you who played each person on the card (which has a name in the top right on most) and of course the Game Designer, Illustrators and so on. Again, I love that they used real people and pictures.
Dark Gothic is a fun deck building game with that little twist that makes it one of our favorites at game nights. There is a bit of reading involved so kids who cannot read or who scare easily should not play this game. However, if your child can read and isn’t afraid of pictures/drawings of monsters and things then they should be just fine.
If you are a fan of Horror and games you will enjoy Dark Gothic. Flying Frog Productions puts out other equally interesting games with similar artwork that I am looking forward to trying.
What Flying Frog games have you played? Who is your favorite Monster Hunter? #DarkGothic @MyGeekligns @FFPGames