After getting disappointed several times because I had two great board games in Invasion From Outer Space and Last Night on Earth and no one was interested in playing them with me, I looked into A Touch of Evil, another game created by Flying Frog Productions, the creators of my previous two games. Out of the 5 games produced by FFP, this game is second only to Last Night on Earth in terms of popularity.
This game, however, was quite different compared to my first two games, where the players would play either the Human side or the non-Human side (Zombies or Martians). In those games, the players were in direct opposition against the other team. Here, players take on the role of characters in 19th century America who take it upon themselves to save the town of Shadowbrook from the clutches of an evil villain who has been terrorizing the townsfolk. These characters range from an inspector, a former soldier, a noblewoman, even a teacher, each with different characteristics, but all aiming to defeat the evil villain before he completely gets a grip of Shadowbrook. Ever watch the movie Sleepy Hollow that starred Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci? This game plays out like that movie, with the Heroes doing just what Ichabod Crane did while trying to investigate a series of gruesome murders.
Players can play competitively, trying to be the first to beat the evil villain (and getting into the other players’ ways) or cooperatively, joining forces against a more powerful version of the villain. To do this, players go around the town of Shadowbrook and conduct “investigation tokens” which represent how many clues you’ve gathered. You can spend these tokens for several things: to buy equipment that help you further in your investigation or help you fight the villain, to investigate the Town Elders and see which ones can help you or are actually in league with the villain, and other things. Remember how it was Christina’s step mother in Sleepy Hollow that was controlling the Headless Horseman? This game can play out like that, with one of the Town Elders in cahoots or actually in control of the villain that you’re facing.
There are a total of eight Heroes to choose from: Karl, the soldier; Isabella Von Took, the noblewoman; Anne Marie, the teacher; Heinrich Cartwright, the drifter; Victor Danforth, the playwright; Inspector Cooke, the detective; Thomas the courier; and Katarina, the Outlaw. Each Hero has his or her own strengths and weaknesses – Inspector Cooke is a man of science who has little belief in all things faith-related, Danforth and Anne Marie are both weak in physical combat and need to use their smarts to win conflicts, Karl and Katarina are both stalwarts in straight up fighting, and so on.
Also, there are a total of 4 villains included in the game, and they all play out differently. Like the Heroes, each villain has a different strength and a different set of minions at their disposal: there’s the Vampire, the Werewolf, the Scarecrow, and the Spectral Horseman. I haven’t played extensively to figure out the strategies for defeating each villain nor have I figured out all the differences between each, but to give an example: the Scarecrow has swarms of locusts at his disposal that requires Cunning to be defeated (so a Hero with a high Cunning stat would do better against this). Meanwhile, the Vampire employs Succubi which are stronger against male Heroes. So the Heroes would have to approach the Scarecrow and the Vampire differently.
Since purchasing the game, I’ve yet to move to the Advance rules and have been stuck at playing the Basic rules. I’ve yet to get a good grasp of all the rules – especially the situational ones like “what happens if the Hero loses its Showdown with the Villain?” and stuff like that. So I’m going to wait until I’ve mastered the game before I assess how I feel about it. But it looks interesting, doesn’t it?