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 the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every 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 2 January 2018

...You can never leave!:- The Bloody Inn: The Carnies

Game: The Bloody Inn: The Carnies

Publisher: Pearl Games

Designer: Nicholas Robert

Year: 2017

The Bloody Inn is a card game about getting rich by robbing the dead as you bury them... Oh and producing the dead by murdering people in their sleep. It's a cheerful game. The Bloody Inn: The Carnies is the first expansion for The Bloody Inn, it includes 4 mini expansions that you can add in piecemeal to vary your game, or throw them all in together for some major upheaval. With the help of this expansion you'll be inviting some... less reputable people into your lovely rural murder-hotel, but at the same time you will be inviting some of the "upstanding pillars of the community" like bankers. To help you deal with this new clientele you can utilize items and techniques passed down through your family that assist you in your dark deeds.

The titular part of the expansion are the carnies themselves. These are a new deck of visitors that you add at the start of the game. They act functionally the same as any other visitor (unless you are using the events). When they arrive in your inn you can kill/bribe/ignore them like anyone else, however they have 2 different costs. One cost for while they are in the inn, and another for when they are in your hand/dead on the floor. It's possible to have someone who is free to murder, but you still need 2 accomplices to bury. Carnies also tend to have strange rules for burying, such as burying them under an opponents building, these can really throw a wrench into peoples plans, but not as much as the next mini expansion.

The full contents of the expansion. 52 cards, 28 new guests (half carnies, half notables), 8 events, 16 objects and 4 50 franc checks. 

If you are using the carnies then you can also add in the event cards. At the start of every turn where the inn has at least one carnie staying you draw an event card. If the carnie is still in the inn at the end of the round then the event takes place. These events are almost unanimously bad things, such as having to pay more upkeep for your accomplices, or losing half of your coins. As such players can often go out of their way to murder/recruit visiting carnies to ensure that these events don't come to pass. While this seems like a good system in theory, when playing a 2 player game there is rarely enough time to stop them unless you both drop your plans. This can be especially mean when the police and the carnies arrive en masse, dividing your attentions between them. The Bloody Inn is already a game where you feel under a lot of pressure to be efficient with your actions, it doesn't need this extra distraction.

The next mini expansion are the notables. This is a replacement set of green cards for the game which have a focus on player interaction. In The Bloody Inn the nobles were probably the most boring cards, they had no powers as accomplices and their annexes only provided you with a little financial gain. The notables in The Carnies are a lot more varied. They also have asymmetrical ranks previously seen in this expansion, so you may find them cheap to recruit, but expensive to build the annex or vice versa. Their annexes are all about making money, but now in ways that are affected by the state of the inn or other players. For example the surgeon gains you some income if any of your opponents have an unburied corpse that he can practice on. This added player interaction is a very welcome addition, as well as being a some-what steady income over the course of a game.

The notables, bankers, surgeons and other respectable citizens. Quite what they are doing in your inn is anyone's guess.

The final module are Aunt Ginette's tips and tricks. These are a series of item cards that you buy at the start of the game by doing a short draft. They cost from 0-3 francs each with varying power depending on the cost. These are another great addition to the game, they allow you to pull out some nasty surprises. One of your opponents has too many corpses? Give that policeman a full coffee service, he'll be too busy to be bribed and awake all night so no-one can murder him! Need to kill someone but don't have a free annex? Throw them down the well, you won't get as much money, but it saves on both time and effort. Aunt Ginette knows all the old family recipes, poison, liquor, meat pies...

The Bloody Inn: The Carnies has two very solid improvements to the base game, and then it has the carnies themselves. The carnies aren't bad as guest cards, but some of the events aren't just mean, they are unfun and unbalanced. Losing a peasant from the game isn't that bad in a four player game, but do it to two players and it cripples the game's dynamic. The new guest cards do work well, I love the asymmetrical ranks found on all of the them, they make for a more dynamic game. You can go for an easy kill, but then have to struggle to get them buried. Similarly the items help make the game flow better, on top of adding some advanced tactical decisions. Each item is one use so you have to decide when it's best to use it, but used well they can buy you some valuable time. Ultimately The Carnies is actually a solid expansion, but be forewarned, it does make the game a heck of a lot meaner and is horribly let down by the event system.


The Bloody Inn: The Carnies was a review copy provided by Esdevium Games Ltd. It is available for an RRP of £10.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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