The ABCs of Gaming: U is for…

Time for the letter U in this ongoing series about the ABCs of Gaming.  U is for…

image by BGG user hrc333

Ultimate Werewolf is a 2008 refinement of the party game Werewolf, which itself is a redux of another game called Mafia.  Ultimate Werewolf was designed by Ted Alspach, and is published by Bezier Games.  It is purportedly playable by 5-68 players ages 8 and up, and takes 30 minutes to play.  In the game, a group of villagers try to determine who the werewolves are before it’s too late.  In the poll, this was the closest vote between first and second, with only eight votes separating Ultimate Werewolf (at 18.9%) and Other (at 17.9%).

Components – image by BGG user toulouse

This a card game…sort of.  The cards are important for differentiating the different roles in the game, but have no other purpose.  The game is mostly played mentally.  At the start of the game, one player will take the role of moderator.  They are not involved in the game, and will just run it.  Each other player will be dealt a card.  This will identify them as a werewolf, a villager, or one of around 30 other different roles.  Your role is kept secret.  For the first game, you’ll probably want to just use werewolves, villagers, and the Seer.

This game is played in a night-day cycle.  During the night, the werewolves will kill one villager.  During the day, the villagers will lynch one player that they hope is the werewolf.  During the first night, the moderator will have everyone close their eyes, then will have the werewolves wake up and reveal themselves to each other (and the moderator).  In subsequent nights, the werewolves will awaken and collectively choose one player to kill.  The moderator will then have them close their eyes again, and have the Seer identify him or herself.  The Seer may point to one player to find out if they are or are not a werewolf.

During the day, the moderator will wake everyone up and tell them who has been killed in the night.  That player reveals their card and is out of the game, unable to speak anymore.  All remaining players (including the secret werewolves) can then start nominating people they think are evil in an effort to have them killed.  Everyone will vote, and the unlucky player is dead, revealed, and out of the game.

The game continues until either all the werewolves are dead (the villagers win) or there are as many werewolves left as villagers (the werewolves win).

This is an extremely popular party game because it’s very simple to explain and play.  There’s NO strategy involved – if you’re a villager, you have to get lucky to catch the werewolves; if you’re a werewolf, you may want to kill the stronger players, but it’s hard to tell.  It’s the roleplaying experience that people like.  You don’t even have to have a produced version to play the game – you can just as easily use a deck of playing cards.  The Ultimate Edition, however, comes packaged with a ton of different roles that make the game more interesting for advanced players.  Among them are:

  • Cupid, who identifies two players as lovers that will die if the other one does.
  • Hunter, who fires a gun at a target when killed.
  • Lycan, who appears to be a werewolf to the Seer.
  • Mayor, whose vote counts twice when trying to lynch someone.
  • Priest, who can choose to protect one player for one kill attempt.
  • Troublemaker, who can choose to have two lynchings in a day.
  • Wolf Cub, whose death will allow the werewolves to kill twice the following night.

And so on.  I’ve gotten to play Ultimate Werewolf a couple of times, and it’s fun.  It’s a game where the experience is more important than the actual gameplay.  It was my choice for U.  This is partly because I think it’s worthy, but it’s also because I hadn’t played and don’t know much about any of the other U games that were officially nominated.  Speaking of which:

Other (17.9%): Perhaps this should be Uther for it to fit into the theme.  Nominees included Under the Shadow of the Dragon, Unexploded Cow, Uno, Upwords, Uskoci, and Utopia Engine.  I  have played Uno and Upwords, though I don’t think I’d pick either of them for this list.

Union Pacific (1999, Alan R. Moon, 16%): This is Alan R. Moon’s “other” train game.  It’s more stock based than Ticket to Ride.  It was a remake of a game called Airlines, then last year was remade again as Airlines Europe.

Up Front (1983, Courtney F. Allen, 12.8%): A World War II card driven wargame that is currently just outside the BGG top 100.

Ubongo (2003, Grzegorz Rejchtman, 12.2%): This is a simultaneous puzzle game where players are attempting to fit Tetris pieces into a pattern in order to claim jewels.  I lumped all of the games in the series into this entry.  This is probably the one I’m most interested in of the also-rans.

Unpublished Prototype (10.1%): This has its own listing at BGG, and I included it as a joke, especially since there weren’t that many U games.  And it came in a respectable sixth place.  I liked one comment on the list: “I really like Unpublished Prototype. Very replayable. It’s very different every time I play it.” (BGG user haslo)

Unhappy King Charles! (2008, Charles Vasey, 4.3%): A wargame set in the English Civil War of 1642.

Um Reifenbreite (1979, Rob Bontenbal, 3.8%): The 1992 Spiel des Jahres winner about bicycle racing.

UR (2006, Paolo Mori, 1.5%): A civilization building board game, set in ancient Mesopotamia.

Uruk: Wiege der Zivilisation (2008, Hanno and Wilfried Kuhn, 1.4%): A civilization card game this time, set in Sumeria.

Under the Lily Banners (2005, Ben Hull, 1.1%): Another war game, this one set in the Thirty Years War.

The Us are done.  The next one will be V.  Thanks for reading!

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