Sunday, October 14, 2012

Why It's My Favorite: A Touch of Evil

It has been a LONG time since I have attempted any kind of series (heck it has been a while since I regularly wrote more than one blog a month) so this is my attempt to remedy that.  Earlier this year I made my list of favorite games.  Then I gave a brief overview of the games, but now I hope to give a more full picture of my top ten games  and why I like it so much.

A Touch of Evil

Game Overview
In a Touch of Evil the players play as heroes who have come to the town of Shadowbrook to help fight against an evil monster who is threatening and terrorizing the town. The board represents a map of the town and surrounding areas. There are several different heroes and monsters to choose from. On a player’s turn they first roll a six sided die and move. They will then encounter the space. The corners of the board are unique areas such as the abandoned fort, windmill, manor, and old woods. Each of these locations have their own deck of cards, and to encounter the space a player draws the card. These cards can be items that help the players, cards that attack the players, or cards where players can gather investigation (the currency of the game). To make these investigation test players will roll either their spirit, cunning, or honor attribute. The way these rolls work is players roll a number of dice equal to the attribute, and certain number is needed for a success. For example, if a spirit 5+ test is needed and my spirit is a 3, then I roll three dice and each five or six I roll is a success. Combat is done much the same way, where fives and sixes cause wounds. Combat is simultaneous, and one of the other players will roll for the enemy. 

The non-corner named spaces will often provide event cards which can be helpful. There are also other special locations that allow the purchase of items, healing of wounds or increasing stats. After a player encounters the space they can do a couple of other things. They may pay investigation to heal wounds, look at town elder secrets, or lairs cards. Looking at a town elder secret is important, because in the final showdown, a player can take two town elders with them. However, some of these secrets may actually reveal the elder to be evil and so taking an evil elder on a showdown actually has them help the villain. Lair Cards are needed to initiate a showdown with the villain. 

After every player has a turn there is the mystery phase. There is some book keeping that takes place, but the main thing that happens is a mystery card is drawn. These are always bad for the heroes and represent the actions of the villain. As the game continues the heroes will be getting stronger, until someone initiates a showdown against the villain. The first player to win the showdown and defeat the villain is the winner

Why I Love This Game
The primary reason why I love this game is because it is probably the closest  I will ever get to playing a role playing game with Abigail.  This game always have a really strong narrative to it.  The cards in the game are what really make this.   Many of the location cards have flavor text written in the second person.  This is much like a gamemaster describing what is going on.  Obviously the story is somewhat abstracted by the strictly board game mechanics.  For example, I can investigate the town elder's secrets but the game does not give any narrative as to how that is done.  While this game stops just short of creating a true narrative story line like a true RPG it creates all the dots, and it takes very little for the player to connect them.  Every play tells a fantastic story that is full of all drama and excitement.

I also enjoy the components of the game.   The game board that looks like a map is great, and I love the photos used for the card.  For me those cards really capture the theme of the game and add a lot.  The hero miniatures are also really nice, and someday I would like to attempt painting them like this person did:

I also really enjoy how much this game has been expanded.  At this point the game has two full expansion boards and two hero packs.  Plus, there are several villains that have been released online.  When this game, with all expansions is laid out, it begins to move into epic game territory.  
Since the greatest appeal of the story is exploring and creating a story, having more space to explore only adds to the game's enjoyment.  

So Finally . . .
If you just skimmed everything else, here are my thoughts summed up in a couple of sentences:  A Touch of Evil is one of my favorites because it is a game that really captures it's pulpy horror theme, and every time I play the game the experience tells a great story that really captures my imagination.  


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