Black Forest design and development

I wanted to capture some of the process I've been going through to bring this game to publication. While I've dabbled in some design and expansion work, this is my first real foray into board game publication, which I am spearheading myself.
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Black Forest - Strategy for the Werewolf

Jack Reda
United States
Herndon
Virginia
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Black Forest is a board game for 3-5 players that I have been designing for the last two years. The Kickstarter launches this week.

In this post I will talk about different strategies the Werewolf player might use during the Night phase.

Here are the other articles in this blog about the game's development:

Development of Black Forest
Roles and Seer Visions
Village Tiles
Harvest Board
Profession cards

The Night phase of the game involves drafting cards, like in 7 Wonders. This is when the Werewolf player has the chance to attack players to eliminate their Villager tokens.

The Night deck has 2 Werewolf Attack cards, but also contains several other cards that the Werewolf player can draft in order to secretly wreak havoc amongst the other players.

First a refresher on how the drafting works.

In a 4 player game, each player is dealt 5 cards. Players will choose one of the cards and pass the rest clockwise. They then choose a card from the 4 they are given and pass the rest clockwise. This continues until each player is passed 2 cards. They all choose one and discard the unchosen card face down.

Each player is now holding 4 cards they have chosen. At this point, they must all assign a card to each player (including one for him or herself). When that happens, each player will end up with 4 cards (one assigned to him or her by each player in the game). The cards are shuffled, so you don't know who assigned you which cards (of course, you will know which card you assigned to yourself).

Players then, one at a time, reveal the 4 cards they have been assigned to determine what has happened to them in the night.

Cards in the Night deck for a 4 player game include

- Tax Cards . You must pay the indicated number of Coins.
- Barricades . It takes 2 Barricades (cards, tokens bought at the Carpenter, or one of each) to protect you from a Werewolf Attack.
- Drinking All Night . If you have paid a Coin at the Tavern to Drink All Night and then get and reveal this card, you are protected from Werewolf Attack (safely passed out in the Tavern). However, the next Day phase, one of your Villager tokens must sit in Jail.
- Wages . Earn a Coin for each Profession card you hold.
- Guild Dues . Pay a Coin for each Profession card you hold.
- Alms for the Poor . Each a Coin if you have a Villager token at the Church and reveal this card.
- Quiet Night . Nothing happens. There are several of these in the deck.
- Werewolf Attack. Only the Werewolf player can choose this (and then assign it).

The Hunter card is added to the Night deck when someone visits the Hunter Village tile and pays 1 Coin to hire the Hunter. Only that player can then choose the Hunter card (and may assign it to anyone, including him or herself). Revealing the Hunter cancels a Werewolf Attack.

So what can the Werewolf player do in the Night phase?

Maintaining secrecy about his or her identity is important for the Werewolf. Having two Werewolf Attack cards in the Night deck can give the Werewolf options about whether or not to choose that card when it is passed. If a Werewolf Attack is not initially dealt to the Werewolf, then another player will see it first, and know it is passed clockwise to a different player.

When a Werewolf Attack card is one of the cards passed to a player, it may make him or her less suspicious of players to the right. Thus, if a Werewolf player opts to not choose that card and instead passes it to the next player clockwise, it may throw suspicion off. The danger for the Werewolf player is that every Night phase, at least 2 cards are not dealt out at all. So potentially one or both Werewolf Attack cards may never be passed to the Werewolf. Passing on choosing the card the first time it is passed to him or her could mean the Werewolf player misses out on eliminating any Villager tokens that night. Eliminating tokens is critical to winning the game for the Werewolf

Fortunately, there are other ways the Werewolf player can make trouble for the other players. Since winning the game for the Werewolf means moving the Harvest marker even with the tokens on the Victim track, the Werewolf will want to make sure the other players are always hurting for Coins. If the Werewolf chooses Tax cards, he or she can assign them the players that have the fewest Coins. If another player has a lot of Profession cards, the Werewolf player will want to make sure the Guild Dues card is assigned to that player.

Additionally, the Werewolf player will want to make sure other players are less able to protect themselves from Werewolf Attack. If a player has paid a Coin at the Tavern to Drink All Night, then the Werewolf player will want to choose the corresponding Night card and assign it to someone who can't use it. Same thing with Alms for the Poor, and Barricades. Foiling the Hunter is best achieved if it's the Werewolf player who actually hires the Hunter in the first place. Then the card can safely be assigned to the wrong player.

Lastly, the Werewolf player is allowed to assign a Werewolf Attack card to him or herself. This means one of the Werewolf player's Villager tokens is eliminated and placed on the Victim track. It has risks, because of the Werewolf player runs out of Villager tokens (normally through a vote at the Court House, but in reality for any reasons), then he or she loses. But sacrificing one or two Villager tokens may sow enough doubt among the other players about whether or not you are the Werewolf.

Using up the single slots on the Magistrate, Hunter, and Seer tiles of the village should be a priority for the Werewolf player (as well as the non-Werewolf players of course). The Magistrate is where you take control of the Meister token (for first player advantages). The Hunter was mentioned above. And if the Werewolf player is having Seer visions on the others, then they aren't having them on him or her.
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