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Dreary Hamlet» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Dreary Hamlet casual review rss

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So, I've played Dreary Hamlet, and since there is no review here yet, I'll just share my opinion. However, I have played it only once yet, and am even unsure about the one or other rule, but all in all think that we played it correctly.


Gameplay
You play some sort of treasure hunter. During the daytime you hunt monsters for loot, at night you hide from said monsters as they stalk you, and in both cases you try to survive. However, you will die. All players will die, each and every game. What's the aim then? To be the richest corpse.

Each player has three actions available during the day phase of a turn, and those can be used to sell cards, change the type of ammo you currently use, spend extra time to loot a monster you just defeated, or attack a monster.
To gain loot, you have to defeat monsters. To do so, you attack them and hopefully defeat them. You can't just run away if the fight takes a turn for the worse. You keep fighting until either you or the monster is dead. Once the monster died, you get the loot. The fights consist of rolling dice for the monster and the player, both having a number of dice to attack with and having to beat a certain value to hit.

The loot cards consists of three basic categories:
- Components that can be combined to craft something (like turning gold flakes into nuggets into gold bars and combine with a gem into a pendant). The crafting system is quite simple: you don't craft something like armor or weapons. Mostly, you combine items into items that are worth more when sold.
- Spells. They can be played at any time on any player (unless specified otherwise on the card). Spells have all kinds of effects: you can steal cards from other players, flee from combat, have a monster attack a player and so on.
- Food, that you can eat to regain health, or sell for money.

Once each player completed his/her three actions, night falls. The players again choose a type of ammo, and are then attacked by monsters themselves. This time the monsters strike first, and if you have the wrong type of ammo equipped, you first got to change it before you can fight back while the monster keeps hitting you. If you defeat a monster this time, you get no loot, you just survive.

Then it turns day again, and that cycle continues until all players are dead, at which point their money is counted (not the value of the cards, only the money they got from selling stuff), to determine the winner.

Once a player dies, the game is not over yet. The player from then on draws cards from a death deck, allowing him/her to meddle with the game from beyond the grave. Those cards allow you to change the seating order, deal damage to players, give them money and so on. And once only one player remains, the monsters deal double damage to speed things up.


Components
The components are of very high quality. The design of the box itself like a book (that is also opened that way) is a great idea and fits the dark theme of the game. The art is very impressive and fitting too, as are the plastic tokens and the glass beads. The glass beads are put on ammo icons to show what ammo you selected, and work then like some sort of tiny magnifying glass, which is a great idea too. The cards themselves and the rulebook are of high quality too. Oh, the game also has actual metal coins that look really nice, and brings along a fitting coin bag.


Luck
It seems to me that the game has something like 65% strategy and 35% luck. You have strategic decisions to make each and every turn which will of course have a huge impact on your chances of winning. Still, there is quite some luck involved. Which monster will attack you at night (if any)? What loot cards will you draw? How does the dice rolling for yourself or the monster you fight with turn out?


Player interaction:
Players can't attack each other just like that. However, they can fling looted spells at each other while they are alive, have the death deck to mess things up once they died, and, more subtly, what monsters they killed also has an impact on the options other players have. Also, whenever there is a fight between a monster and a player, one player rolls the dice for the monster, which also makes the game feel more interactive.


Replayability:
I can't say a lot about that yet. The game setup is the same each time (apart from the random selection of monsters). So, you don't have different factions you can play as or whatever. However, I guess due to the political aspect of the game (how to annoy what player with what cards) as well as the luck aspect, there is some replay value there. The Kickstarter version also got some quest cards, though we haven't used that yet.


What I liked about the game:
- The art and quality of game components.
- The concept of a game where all players die no matter what, and that the death of a player doesn't prevent them from being part of it.
- That the rules are simple and quickly explained, yet there are still a lot of decisions to make: Like do you sell the food or eat it? Do you annoy players with your cards now, maybe even kill them, or hold on to them? Do you loot a monster you just killed again, or instead attack another monster? When the night falls, do you choose the ammo that allows you to fight the type of monster that is the most likely to attack you, or the one for the most deadly monster?
- The quick setup of the game.
- The laughter when all of a sudden the spells are flung at each other, or when a player has a lot of good or bad luck.


What could have been better:
Not much in my opinion. The different types of cards are a bit difficult to distinguish, according to the art on the back or the border on the front of the card. I guess that is no problem though if you keep the piles apart. Also, during the first one or two games, you might get a bit confused by the numbers on the monster cards. They have number values each for the amount loot you get, the health they have, how difficult they are to hit, with how many dice they attack, and how easily they hit you. So, at first it is a bit confusing which number stands for what, but that confusion should fade as you play the game.


You might like the game if:
- You enjoy a dark setting.
- High quality components and great art are important for you.
- You want an interesting game that is not too complex.
- You can play nasty cards on other players (that might even kill them or destroy valuable cards on their hand) without having much of a bad conscience.


You might not like the game if:
- You need long term strategies of some sort.
- You get angry quickly if other players mess up your game.
- You dislike it if luck plays a role.


Conclusion
I'm happy I acquired the game. The quick setup and simple rules were very convenient, the games components and art are impressive and pleasing to the eye, and we had fun playing it.

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