This week I got to play only 2 different games; 1 new game that I had never played before, and another which is an all-time favorite! It just goes to show that even weeks low on game quantity can still be high in game quality!
I recently made a post saying that I really wanted to try this new hidden role game from Overworld Games, and I was able to acquire a copy recently. We gave it a try at The Jester’s Court on the last Board Game Night and I was not disappointed!
New Salem sees players take the role of either a normal citizen trying to make an honest living, or a witch, plotting and scheming to undermine the honest people of the town by spreading ‘Despair’, which is one of the game’s currencies. To battle the witches’ powers the other players fight back with the other currency, ‘Hope’. Hope is used to put witches on trial (which limits their powers), view a player’s actual hidden role card, or to eliminate some of the town’s Despair.
Like a lot of hidden role games, New Salem revolves around finding out the true identities of the players around the table. However, unlike most hidden role games, the game isn’t all but over when the bad guy’s role is revealed. Once revealed, a witch gets to more openly spread Despair without that fear of discovery. This newfound lack of fear, however, is balanced out by the townspeople’s ability to place the exposed witch on trial. So how do players, good and evil alike, gain Hope and Despair? Through the game’s other main mechanic – drafting!
Players’s characters, good and bad alike, have certain building types that score them extra points at the end of the game. Some buildings produce Hope and some produce Despair. In order to win as an individual players will have to complete building sets, so inevitably good players will produce some Despair and evil players will produce some Hope. This twist can make good players look suspiciously like witches, and witches can appear to be helpful citizens. Even though the Confession event (paid for with Hope) can reveal a player’s role, the group still doesn’t know who’s telling the truth. A witch can, after all, pay the Hope required, look at a pure, goodly player’s card and declare that they are a witch!
To further add to the game’s appeal the cards look amazing! The building sets that are drafted form panoramas (like the paintings in Tokaido) and look stunning. The character cards are also fantastic! Boy, the last 45 seconds of ‘Out of Gas’ get me EVERY time! The sales person was talking about some other ship the whole time but Mal’s eyes are FIXED on Serenity! Sorry, I’m watching Firefly while I’m writing this. (edited – as is apparent by the amount of typos I am now, a day later, having to go back and fix)
Outcome – Trudi, who had me CONVINCED that she was an honest citizen was a witch the whole time! She even threw a fellow witch, Jess, under the bus when Jess was on the cusp of discovery! She’s a crafty one, that Trudi! The witches won…
After losing in New Salem, but still in the mood for subterfuge, I was eager to play The Resistance when another player suggested it. We had a group of 9 that grew to 10 during the course of 3 games of this wonderful hidden role game. For a very long time I have maintained that The Resistance is my favorite game of all time.
For our first 2 games I was a loyal member of the resistance, and I helped to try and guide some of the new players through the logic of the game and the importance of how people vote for team makeup and tracking who was on which mission when it succeeded or failed. Games of The Resistance can sometimes (almost always) be a wash for the first few playthroughs with new players, and 6 out of the 10 at the table were playing for the first time. The spies were new people who were unused to the tactics required to be a spy, so the spies failed during the first 2 games.
On the 3rd game, however, I was a spy! During this game, and having listened to another friend’s play by play comments during the first 2 games about why things happened the way they did, and what was ABOUT to happen, I decided to be an ass. I intentionally listened to this friend’s advice and guidance, all the while securing my spot for the last mission by helping with earlier resistance successes.
Outcome – The spies won during the fifth and final mission! I was able to playfully gloat about how logic doesn’t always dictate victory in The Resistance!