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Ultimately we play games because they allow us to enter an affective state that is pleasurable to us. Whether we like a game or not comes down to a couple of things: Does a game provide the experience we were expecting, and how well does it provide that experience?
Essentially I aim to answer the question "What does it feel like to play this game?"
What experience was I expecting?
The blurb on BGG says "Because One Night Ultimate Werewolf is so fast, fun, and engaging, you'll want to play it again and again, and no two games are ever the same." I expected the game to have a "one more game" feel to it based on this description. Knowing a little bit about the game prior to playing I also expected to feel tension and a sense of satisfaction and relief when I was able to outwit my friends.
How well does ONUW provide a quick and engaging, moreish state of tension, relief and sneaky satisfaction?
Quick and engaging: The first time I played it took about 3 minutes of explanation before we were up and running. The game itself is quick (time being kept by the companion app) and takes about 10 minutes a round. Rounds never seemed to drag and indeed sometimes conversation and accusations were cut short as time ran out (not a bad thing at all, it built suspense around which way people would vote).
ONUW definitely felt engaging. As soon as you see your role card for the turn your mind starts working. "How will I fool everyone?", "How can I use my role's power to catch someone out in a lie?". Once everyone wakes up there isn't a chance to be disengaged, you need to be listening to people's claims and watching them for any little clue or discrepancy you can pick up. The quick play time helps here too, you need to gather as much information as you can as quickly as you can (or cast suspicion on others subtly if you are the werewolf).
Moreish: Over the numerous games I've played I've come to realise this relies in large part on the group you are playing with. The first time I played (4 players) the other players were clever and used differing strategies such as logical arguments or emotional pleas. After every game we laughed about how the werewolves got away with it or how they could've escaped when they were caught. And then we played again. And again until 2am.
Plays with other groups have usually led to game after game, even when the players weren't quite as good at lying to their loved ones. But with one group (non-gamers) the game fell flat and we only played once. If you have a group who don't like being held in a state of tension, or who feel uncomfortable with deception then you are probably only going to get one round played.
Tension, relief and sneaky satisfaction: I've touched on this a little in the engagement section but it is the strongest point of ONUW.
You see you are the werewolf and immediately your heart-rate rises a little in anticipation. "So what are you?" someone asks. You project an aura of calm as you reply "Just a villager" and relax as they nod and seem to believe you. But that other person is giving you a side-long glance! Do they know?!
Another player has just laid out a logical progression which explains why you must be the werewolf. Anxiety builds as you try to keep the tension out of your voice and garble out a counter argument.
It's time to vote, fingers point accusingly and you realise you got away with it! Relief floods through you and with smirking satisfaction you flip your card to show you are the werewolf. People shout out that they knew all along and the group starts laughing.
Summing up (or tldr)
ONUW excels at building tension and then flooding you with relief and satisfaction when you get away with a lie or are able to convince others that someone is lying to them. It makes you feel clever when you succeed or frustrated when people won't believe you, and all in 10 minutes. If you succeeded you want to see if you can manage it again (especially now people have seen how well you can lie to them!) and if you failed you want to succeed next time. With a very small investment of time and effort ONUW provides exactly what it promises: an engaging, moreish game filled with tension and relief that provides great satisfaction when you are able to outwit your friends and family.
Thanks for the review Christmas ape. Good review.I already own the game and love it but you captured the experience well.
In my experience, one small short coming of the game is that there is no structure or framework for the players to scaffold their speaking off. This is one reason it can take players, especially new players, a little while to get going.
Everyone can tend to wake up, just look at each other for a long time and eventually open with "uh....ummm...nice weather we've been having..."
Having said that, with the right group, the complete lack of structure for the speaking time allows the game to play really well with the right group.
Love this game. One of the first and only games that has grabbed me right out of the box.
- Last edited Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:09 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:04 pm