Δημητρης Βασιαδης
Greece
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A few words about the publishing company.



The founding of Purple Games took place a few years ago, and is the fruit of a long lasting friendship between two gamers, namely those two:
Maria Olga Raimondo
Greece
Thessaloniki
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Evi Tsirogiannidou
Greece
Thessaloniki
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As the tale has it, Maria-Olga always plays with red and Evi always plays with blue, thus the fitting name for their company. Purple games has an ongoing working relationship with goblins on board, a game design team with whom they have already published Intrigue City which made its appearance at last year's Essen spiel. This year, they are presenting an atmospheric interactive game that employs deductive reasoning and some bluff, and which succesfully takes under one hour to complete.



27th Passenger: A Hunt On Rails


The game's theme is rich. It is the prohibition period in the US. You, a skillful contract killer are not only desperate but also always up for a challenge. A mysterious party has offered the job that could very well mean your retirement, but the price is high. Τhey require that you prove your worth by participating in a lethal competition: a train ride from Manhattan to Staten Island wherein you will find yourself blending amongst peaceful commonners and ruthless assassins that vie to remove you from the equation. Furthermore, their identities are unknown to you and to eachother.

There are two kinds of clues you can use to deduce the other assassins' identities, in order to subsequently target them. You can rule them out by telling them apart from the uninteresting passengers that casually board or disembark the train. The assassins are on the train from the beginning of the trip and will never get off. Each station has different traffic characteristics allowing you to decide if devoting a turn to observe the passengers is worth it.

Alternatively, you can follow the subtle clues that betray another assassin's presence: a distant whisper, a characteristic scent... this is a more dangerous method however, since you could easily become the prey while hunting for evidence, especially if you make it easy for an opponent to predict your actions.

The goal of the game is to somehow be the last professional standing before the train reaches its destination, either by sending rivals to meet their maker, or by sitting it out and letting them kill eachother while you are playing your favorite boardgame in the next cart (I'm afraid that would apparently be monopoly at the time ). Keep in mind though that harming an innocent passenger will immediately disqualify you...and worse, since the organizers of this contest do not feel for the attention such a crime would draw upon the event.


The manual is fluent in theme and easily conveys the flow of the game. A very welcome feature are the frequent textboxes offering a thematic representation of the different rules and actions available to the player. The narrative is very strong, has the feel of a 1920's newspaper text and succeeds in conveying the discourse of the era. I feel I have to congratulate the author.



Each player utilizes a deduction sheet to methodically rule out the innocent passengers and infer as to who his opponents might be. Guessing is luckily out of the question, since an erroneous assumption will cost you: by killing an innocent you are immediately eliminated from the game.
The deduction sheet mentions each character and his three distinct traits you can look for. As mentioned, there are mainly two kinds of information that you will note on the sheet: observing a character boarding or leaving the train, straightforwardly rules him/her out from being an assassin, so you just cross these passengers off the deduction sheet. Following another player will also betray one of his three characteristics, so you may note for instance that Peter's character's scent is fowl.


A game's turn is simple. With a simultaneous action selection mechanic, each player denotes the action he is going to carry for the turn by placing his corresponding action card face down on the table. Each player is also equipped with some one-time use action cards, of which 2 are common for all players and 2 are unique and complementary to an action. These are dealed randomly during setup.

During the course of the game, even if you do not plan to do so by spending an action, you will observe passengers leaving the train each round. This proves the innocence of the particular characters. By spending an action, you can put yourself a few steps ahead of your rivals and take a note of the passengers also boarding the train. It is obvious that this action is more efficient when in a high traffic station where many passengers will board the train. It is also inevitable that the information you received will be shared by your opponents, since in a few rounds the passengers will have to get off the train, and thus will become noticed by all players. So this action only gives you the advantage for a few rounds. During the end of the game, this advantage becomes very important. Also, to cope with the temporary nature of this benefit, spending an action of this type (scheming as it is referred in the manual) gives you the opportunity to threat a certain passenger, prohibiting him of leaving the train early. In other words, a unique innocent passenger will be known only to you.


Each station has its own character not only regarding its traffic, but also the events that unfold there. Depending on how far the train has progressed, certain event cards characterize the various stations. Early on things are relatively calm, in mid-game the events provide some interesting opportunities and/or make some actions unattractive, and as the train reaches its destination an event that is exploited successfully can determine the winner.

Apart from taking the time to notice the people boarding the train, a player can spend his turn looking for clues: the player has the right to demand from another player to reveal any chosen trait of his character. This information is private only to the player that performed the investigation action. It is of course simple to understand that 3 consequent successful investigations to the same target will render him unprotected and subject to elimination. When you are absolutely certain of an opponent's identity, you can spend your next action to assassinate him. As mentioned, an erroneous assumption will cost you the game. Assassinating innocent people is not tolerated.. or is it? perhaps some rivals of yours have certain skills that permit them to be overly aggressive.

Another interesting choice for a player is to defend himself against potential investigative harassment. There are mainly 2 ways to do this, apart from managing to eliminate the player that poses a threat. The first way would require some disguise cards. These are cards that can be played as a response to an investigative action against you. The effect being that they mask your traits rendering your opponent's action useless. The other way is spending an action to actively defend yourself, with the possibility of even retaliating! If, while defending another player has chosen to investigate you (remember, the actions for the round are chosen simultaneously) then you end up investigating him. This can happen particularly often if a player knows that an opponent has noted 2 of his 3 identifying characteristics. Thus, bluff and interaction must be taken into account when one plans his strategy.



The game is of a light complexity. It is easily explained in under 5 minutes and requires no previous experience with boardgames. It also plays in under one hour and requires a small amount of concentration: practically only the upcoming events in the next station or a particularly aggressive stance from an opponent could disturb a player's plans. The deduction element, the strategy and the interaction make it an excellent family game that will hit the table often with light groups.


Critique:
Seen as a light game, I have a very small amount of things to criticize. The manual is so thematic that made me look for that theme in the mechanics of the game. Although the interaction and the suspense that builds up contribute greatly to the creation of a suitable atmosphere, I would like the events to offer some more flavour as well.
If we look at this as a gamer's game, I would have to say it feels like a very promising backbone for a heavier deduction game that could be even more challenging. Of course, this scope defeats the purpose of releasing a fast playing, easily explained light deduction game. I would then have to compromise and ask for mechanics that widen the depth without raising the complexity of the game. I would like to propose that perhaps each player could have an assistant known only to himself from the beginning of the game, or that each player's skills would be tied to his traits somehow. But then, the balance is already in very high levels, and it does offer the interaction I needed that made my experience with the game enjoyable.


I have tried a prototype version and I rate the game a 8.4/10 as is.

The game is currently on kickstarter:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/purplegames/27th-passen...



That's it! I hope you will have some interesting evenings playing 27th passenger

all the best.
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Craig C
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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Sounds like an interesting game. Can you give an idea of how the game determines who gets on and off, so a player's card isn't accidentally removed from the train by the game itself?

My first thought was each player would have a card with their identity and traits on it, but how then would that card also be in the pool of passengers that everyone had access to, and what ensures that card won't be removed when "normal" passengers exit the train?
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Maria Olga Raimondo
Greece
Thessaloniki
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Craig your first thought was actually right! Each player has a passenger card in front of him, so his card can never be removed from the train. That is how you know that everyone who gets off is innocent and you can erase him off your list.
However in the game, there isn't only the deduction method by which you can find out your opponents. There is also a direct method, that is by asking them to tell you one of their 3 features (investigation).
The rulebook and perhaps a playthrough video will be uploaded next week, so everything will clear up for you soon.
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