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Dan Letzring

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You better keep your wits about you, there may be witches among us. In Affliction: Salem 1692 players take on the role of villagers in colonial Salem, working to either bring other colonists into their circle or arrest those which they believe are witches. In this historically accurate Worker Placement game, there are no actual witches but that won’t stop you from accusing colonists of dabbling in the dark arts in order to earn victory points and sabotage your opponents.



Affliction: Salem 1692 is a fun little worker placement game designed by Dan Hundycz and published by DPH Games. Ages: 12+ Playing Time: 1 hour for 2-4 Players

The Set-up

Players choose a player board, matching pawns, and a starting colonist to begin constructing their region of Salem. A center game board (containing all available actions that can be taken on a turn) is placed in the center of play along with two rows of colonists: one of which contains 4 prominent colonists and one which contains 4 standard colonists. The remaining cards from these decks are placed face-down beside their respective rows.



The Gameplay

Players begin by placing one pawn at a time on the center game board, choosing the action they would like to take. Only one worker is allowed per action position and once all are placed, the positions resolve in a specific order.

Actions include –

Gaining Influence: Influence is basically the form of currency used in Affliction

Add a colonist from the center to your circle: Colonists can be added to your circle by paying influence equal to the colonists reputation. Each player has specific families of colonists that they receive bonus points for bringing into their circle.

Use all colonists in your circle’s abilities:
This position adds a nice engine building aspect. There is another spot on the board to receive influence based on colonists in your circle as well. These positions force players to give more consideration to the ways they are building their towns as you can build up a nice reservoir of actions and money generation through your circle.

Placing Accusation Tokens on colonists: These are required to arrest a colonist and also make it easier to do so the more that are placed on them.

Arresting a colonist:
Colonists in the center of the mat can be arrested by paying influence equal to their reputation minus the number of accusation tokens on them. Colonists in other players’ circle cost an additional 5 influence in order to arrest them. Each player has specific families of colonists that they receive bonus points for arresting.
Remove influence from a colonist: This will help you keep your colonists out of jail!

Placing Spectral Evidence, Protection, and Fear tokens: These tokens all work to either make is easier/harder to arrest a colonist or prevent them from generating money and using their abilities.

After all of the actions are resolved, players reclaim their pawns and the center rows of colonists are refilled from their appropriate decks. Once the prominent colonist deck is exhausted, this row of cards is filled from the standard colonists deck.



The Closing Remarks

The Highs


Historically accurate representation.
It is really refreshing to see a game about Salem and witches that has NO ACTUAL witches in it. The game is made to be historically accurate, so there is a lot of accusing people of being witches without there being any actual witches. This is a very cool feature in my eyes. It is also very apparent that the designer did A LOT of research on the Salem witch trials as all of the colonists on the cards are actual people and their powers are based off of how these people related to the Salem Witch Trials. The designer even went so far as to separate the players board into the Town of Salem and Salem Village, which were two separate regions fighting constantly over property lines, grazing rights and church privileges. This attention to detail is very noticeable and makes for a very realistic connection between gameplay and the actual events.

Worker placement. I am also a big fan of worker placements, so games that use this mechanism are always fun for me. The combination of worker placement with the engine building and variable methods of point generation were really interesting to me. I also appreciated that worker placement positions were resolved in a specific order, which sometimes required you to plan specific moves turns in advance. Furthermore, the game did a nice job of making goals feel achievable while at the same time keeping resources limited so that it did not feel like anything was too easy to achieve either.

The lows

Although I had a lot of fun with this game, there were a few negatives I would like to point out about it.

Rulebook.
First, the rulebook was a little tough to get through. This is a pre-production copy, so I understand that it is not final but there were some inconsistencies and some rules left out. I have expressed my concerns of these issues with the designer and he is working to get everything into the rulebook and making it complete before production.

Colonist Balance.
Some colonists felt unbalanced in either their costs or powers. None were really game-breaking but I would like to see more fine-tuning of the characters’ powers compared to their costs.

Game choices might make a game drag on.
The game timer is based on depletion of the colonists deck. Although this works fairly well, there are many turns where you will be targeting colonists in your opponents’ circles and not from the center of the board. If this goes on too long, the center decks are rarely depleted and the game can drag. I spoke to the designer and he is considering adding in an auto discard and repopulate from the center if none of the cards are removed during the round.

Better at more than 2 players. Lastly, the game is fun with at all player counts but 2 players (while fun) felt very much like an elaborate tug of war. I put accusation tokens on your colonist, you block it, I work to prevent your block from helping, you stop my counter-move. I am not typically fond of this type of back and forth however I do not think it was overly an issue here. The game is still fun at 2 players but I think it just really shines at higher player counts.

Final Thoughts:


If you are a fan of Salem, Witches, accusing people of being witches, Worker Placement games or any combination of any of these things, you should definitely look at the Kickstarter campaign more closely to see if this is a game for you. It is enjoyable and I believe that with the work the designer has put into it (and will put into it to correct some of the current issues) the final product will be worthwhile for sure.

More information about the KS campaign:


Launch Date:
January 19th, 2017
End Date: February 19th, 2017
Cost for a copy of the game: $29.99
KS Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dphgames/102436943?toke...
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Nick Stables
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Why the duplicate review?
 
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