Rowdy van Lieshout
Huis ter Heide
This is a copy of an As a Board Gamer article.
You can find a geeklist of all my reviews HERE.
Witness takes you into the world of Blake and Mortimer, a comic series from the Belgian writer Edgar P. Jacobs. In these comics Professor Mortimer and his dear friend and MI5 agent Captain Blake go on all kinds of adventures. Most of them concerning the evil Colonel Olrik. In this game you are one of four characters from these stories and you try to solve several mysterious cases by whispering personal clues to the other players. Are you suited to be an MI5 agent?
What do you get for your money?
You get a Case, a Questions, a Solutions and 4 Clue booklets. Plus, 2 Whisper tiles, 4 Character standees, 1 The Yellow "M" standee, one notepad and the rules.
How do you play the game?
Witness is a strictly four player game, set in the Blake and Mortimer universe. It's a cooperative game, where you whisper clues about a mysterious case to each other and you try to solve that case by answering questions about it afterwards. Then you check the answers and find out if you did a good job or not.
At the beginning of the game every player chooses a character to play, Blake, Mortimer, Nasir or Labrousse, and receives the corresponding Clue booklet. Then you choose a case and one of the players reads the introductory text out loud from the Case booklet.
When that player is done reading the intro, every player takes their Clue booklet and reads, in secret, their corresponding clue page.
Then there will be four rounds of whispering. The Whisper tile will tell you who will whisper clue to who. Remember, during every round there will be two players that whisper and two players that listen. There's no conversation between the players.
After the fourth round, and only then, you can take notes. What have you heard? What have you remembered?
And finally, one player takes the Question booklet and read the three questions out loud and everybody secretly writes down the answers.
When everybody is done, you check the answers in the Solutions booklet and the players receive one point for every correct answer. You add all the points from every player up and check if you were a decent agent.
At first the reaction, when I tried explain the game to the other people, is very sceptical. 'OK. Whispering to each other.' The initial feeling is almost always that of unease. However, they play it, because it's something that is new and different. 'Lets try it and see what happens'
During the first rounds of whispering players still don't know what to make of the clues, because you don't really know what the questions will be. You try to remember everything as good as possible. You try to guess what the makers wanted you to know, you try to guess what the questions will be, but you basically just need to remember the clues.
And then the questions are revealed and you try the solve the puzzle that is represented with pieces you've collected yourself. And that's not always easy, one misplaced puzzle-piece will change the whole picture.
Some cases, even in the same difficulty category, much simpler, much more straightforward than others, but they are all solid puzzles that will cause a nice discussion afterwards. Plus every case has a different angle and feels different.
The replay value for me, as the player who owns the game, near zero. Although you might forget some of the details of every case, during the game you will probably remember them or remember the questions that you need to answer. Off course you can play it just to let your fellow gamers experience the game, but it's less exciting for yourself.
However one game takes ten, fifteen minutes, so you get, at least, about eleven hours of gameplay out of it and that's pretty decent.
Another minor drawback is that this game can only be played with four players, so you can only play it in specific circumstances.
Theme & Flavour
The game is set in the Blake & Mortimer universe and I like that because I read those comics when I was young. Although it adds a bit of flavour to the game, does that mean it's a thematic game? I don't know. You do try to solve these mysteries, so the deductive elements in this game make a lot of thematic sense. The cases themselves, also have a nice Blake & Mortimer vibe. However, the whispering itself does not feel like something a MI5 agent would do.
There's not much about this game in terms of looks. There's not much of a table presence. However, the illustrations in the booklets are very nice, like the comics themselves.
Quality of the components
What can I say about the component-quality when there are so little components? Well, the booklets are fine and the cardboard pieces too. So, the game has good quality components.
I told you above that the first reaction to this game was 'Lets try it and see what happens'. Well, during game and afterwards, the reactions were mixed and I really think that this game isn't for everyone.
I never heard negative reactions, though. Players liked it, or simply were indifferent. They said is was nice, but just for one time only.
I'm one of the players who likes Witness. Really likes it. I'm not always good at the game. I mean my deductive qualities are quite decent, I just sometimes forget some of the details.
This game is just a breath of fresh air. The idea is very simple, yet different and it just works. All the different cases, easy or difficult, with their different questions, pictures and diagrams just excite me. The more difficult cases are more exciting on the deductive side of things. However just remembering everything correctly is a challenge by itself, finger-pointing and 'but you told me this whole other thing....!?' included.
Zero replay value or not, this box just brings multiple hours of fun and that's what counts.
- Last edited Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:09 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:48 pm
I'm not sure I agree about the lack of replay value. I've only played the first three cases so far (and am loving the game), and while I can't see myself forgetting the answers to the first case, I can't remember anything about the answers to the second two. I remember in general what the cases were about (SPOILER ALERT??: spies and mustaches!), but zero of the details.
I think playing as different characters, or just flipping over the piece that determines who whispers to who, would also make it harder to remember everything. It could also be that I just have a pretty awful memory for little details.
I definitely agree that even if one does find the replay value to be questionable, the game has 64 cases and will provide many hours of fun. It's completely unlike anything else in my collection, and provides a lot of really fun moments. It's SUPER satisfying to remember the details of a case and get the questions right, but it might even be more fun when you start getting details mixed up while whispering to someone else and you both start cracking up. Thanks for the review!
Zero replay value? There are 64 cases in the box. That means I can play it 64 times, and all 64 times it will be different. Is the replay value zero with 64 different gameplays? How many games will I play 64 times or more?
Usually, if I play a game 10 times or more, it has a high replay value for me. And here is a game with 64 different gameplay, so for me this is a game with a real high replay value.
That's too much dough unless it's murder. And if it's murder, it's not enough.
There is a weird subset of gamers that just hates the idea of a finite number of plays in any game. It's just insane. I'm with you... if I play a game 10 times in a year, it is at the top of my collection.
It still comes up with games like Consulting Detective, which has 10 cases in the base set -- though each lasts an hour or so.
So even in that situation, I get 10 events for 2-5 people... so... it's $1 per person per event? Less? Awfully good return on your entertainment investment.
There's nothing wrong with come LCG or CCG that you can get hundreds of plays from, but that isn't a template for all games to conform to.
No need to be defensive over a positive review, gentlemen. Also, no need to be intellectually disingenuous. Naturally he's discussing the game's replay value past completing the initial cases. He's right, the game does not have replay value once you're done the cases which only take a few minutes.