Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over 18 months and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every other Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Check-out any time you like, but...:- The Bloody Inn

GameThe Bloody Inn

Publisher: Pearl Games

Designer: Nicolas robert

Year2015

The Bloody Inn is a 1-4 player serial murder simulator... which I’ll be honest isn’t the most relatable theming, you play as an innkeeper who conspires to murder their guests, rob them of everything they own and then unceremoniously dump their bodies under the floorboards. You have to carefully choose who to bribe, who to hire to build buildings (to dump more bodies under) and who to kill in order to make money and avoid arrest.

Each day an inn gets filled up with guests, some of these guest go in player-owned rooms, and should they remain in them, and also remain alive, then you’ll get a little money for that. However if you want to be the richest innkeeper in town you’ll need to find an alternate source of income. Each turn players get to take 2 actions, one at a time in player order. Most actions are done by discarding cards in your hand, but as you hire certain people you’ll find that using them for related actions doesn’t discard them. A police man under your pay is very good at getting away at murder and so you don’t discard him, you just reveal him.

You can bribe guest to work for you (add them to your hand) build annexes to bury people under (annexes also give you ongoing bonuses) kill guest, bury corpses or launder your money. What a cheerful selection of actions! But with only 2 a day you have to be careful, if any police are staying in the inn (and haven’t been bribed or killed) they end up doing an investigation, and police officers do tend to notice unburied corpses just laying around... You can avoid arrest by paying the village gravedigger, but then you don’t have the time to rob the deceased, so it’s a double financial blow!

A game set up ready to start, each player has a couple of peasants to help them, the peasants never leave then inn and you can hire them back for free, so they'll be very useful in the early game.
Having only 2 actions a day feels very limiting and increases the challenge of trying to get everything you want done. However over the game, as you amass annexes and bribed guests you’ll find you can spend more time doing interesting actions, like murder, and less time doing boring actions, like hiring the re-usable peasants back into your hand, you’ll have to be careful about that by the way, people who work for you demand payment (the nerve!) so each card you have in your hand at the end of a day costs you a franc!

The bloody Inn has a lot of strategic depth and encourages hard choices in the face of adversary, you have 1 action, a corpse and a police man in your room, do you bury the corpse, despite not being able to carry all the money (there is a limit, you have to launder money to get past 40 francs), do you bribe the police man but then have to pay him, or do you kill him off and hope that more police don’t come tomorrow? The feeling of progression over the course of the game is also really nice, annexes often have powers that allow you to spend less cards to do an action, which in turn equates to more actions over time, some of the powerful ones even allow you to perform the same action multiple times, so you could end up slaughtering a whole inn as one action! Admittedly that would require a lot of planning and probably be a terrible (in more than one way) thing to do!
A selection of game cards, even the player aid card is useful, it's an annex you can bury someone under. The cards are numbered according to how many cards you need to interact with them, turns out it's harder to kill important people without being spotted!

I do begrudge the theme a little, it can be hard to encourage people to play a game about being a serial killer. But behind that there is a very solid game, there are some balance questions, some of the characters feel particularly weak, like the ones that get you a new room (woo a massive 1 franc a night, except that usually people kill/hire the people in your rooms anyway). But you can’t say that the game isn’t unique, the risk reward gameplay really shines, and unusually for risk/reward situations doesn’t feel too overburdened by luck. The gothic art is also a lovely touch, though frankly you could hardly make this game with cutesy cards! Unfortunately the game is just too hard to get to the table, especially as you really need a first game to get the feel of how the game works, bad actions are penalised so heavily that it can be near impossible to do well on your first game!

7/10

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