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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Monday 30 July 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- The Curse of Misfortune Lane

Game: The Curse of Misfortune Lane

Publisher: Howling Hog Games

Designer: Alexander Delfino, Austin Mace

Year: 2018

The Curse of Misfortune Lane is coming to Kickstarter in August from Howling Hog Games. It’s their first Kickstarter project, but the artwork and prototype are pretty polished ad this campaign caught our eye.

This 2-5 player game is a 1 vs. many experience in which 1 play is the monster and the other players are children, searching the different places around town for items they can use to fight the unknown monster. When night falls, the kids combine the items they have found to use luck and brute force to take on the monster who has revealed themselves. If the kids can defeat the monster they will win!


At the start of a game of The Curse of Misfortune Lane one player will choose (secretly) one of the 3 monsters to be for the game, the rest of the players will select one of the kids, each with their own special powers. The game is then split into two rounds: The day round and the night round. During the day kids will wander around town looking for weapons to help them fight off the monsters, while during the night they face the monster directly using all the items they managed to scavenge during the day.

The game setup with seven different locations to explore.
During the day round the kids will choose one of the 7 locations to search for items in, each location contains a selection of luck cards and weapons. Luck cards are useful against all monsters, while weapons are more powerful, but specific to only one of the 3 monster types. Players will draw one card at a time until they want to stop or draw an encounter which forces the kid to lose all the items they found. After the kids have played the monster player gets to lay a card down, the monster's day cards are generally about poisoning the decks for the kids, adding cards which give negative luck or even removing a deck from the game completely. The monster player will want to try and hide which monster they have so that the kids aren't actively aware of which weapons to hunt for.

Once the day phase ends all the cards the kids have collected will be pooled together and made into the treehouse deck. At the start of the night phase the monster player will reveal which of the monsters they were, they now get a unique set of cards for the chosen monster. The kids will then take turns drawing from the treehouse deck looking for the weapons and items they collected earlier, every 7 luck and any appropriate weapons will allow them to do 1 damage to the monster, if the monster is reduced to 0 health then they kids win.The monster will then get to play cards which can deplete the kid's hands or further poison the treehouse deck with bad cards. Should the night end with the monster not defeated then the monster player wins.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

The Curse of Misfortune Lane is essentially a push your luck game for the kids, mixed with a little bit of deduction. For the monster player the game is almost entirely one of subterfuge, deciding when it is best to tip their hand with their more powerful cards. The biggest problem that I have with it is the day round. Push your luck mechanics are all very well and good, but when your drawing from a deck of ~8 cards and one of them makes you lose everything it's not really push your luck. Nothing hurts more than losing your entire turn to happening to draw the encounter as the top card of a deck! While the night round features the exact same mechanic at lest then the deck has a higher proportion of useful cards.

Playing as the monster is tricky, it's hard to know when to tip your hand  without giving away who you are. Should the kids figure you out then you will have no chance in the following round, though this can be a problem in itself, there is no coming back from the kids having a good deck, this can make it very obvious when the monster is doomed to die.

 For all I've said against it The Curse of Misfortune Lane is not a bad game, but it is a flawed one. The core game mechanics are equally fun and frustrating depending if luck is on your side.The art is all very charming, with the locations having subtle (and not so subtle) nods to the curse and there are plenty of horror tropes to be found. It should be said that the designers were actively tweaking the balance of the game as we were reviewing it and it may have further balance passes before it is in backers hands. The Curse of Misfortune Lane might be for you if you want a light filler game with a tongue in cheek horror theme and a distinctive art style.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Quite surprisingly for me, the social deduction element of The Curse of Misfortune Lane is the part I enjoy most. Trying to disguise your actions to cover up your identity as the monster, or trying to deduce which monster your opponent is playing is a fun element of the game that can also affect how you choose to play as the children – selecting locations that improve your chances of getting good weapons for the right monster.

As the children, we’ve found it really tough to win. Bad luck can really grind you down if the first or second card you draw in a location is the card that makes you throw back every card you gained. If that happens once or twice then your chances in the final showdown are really slim. It’s a shame that some turns feel like complete random luck, rather than push your luck, where you are punished for greed rather than just randomly punished!

I do feel like The Curse of Misfortune Lane isn’t really designed with two-players in mind. One player plays the monster, whilst the other players plays as two children, as if three players were playing. This works perfectly well in a 1-vs-all game, but it just isn’t a natural way for us to play - the same way that I wouldn’t play a game of Pandemic with two characters each.

The two player game where each character can collect loot.
The Curse of Misfortune Lane is a well-themed, push your luck card game with some interesting variability introduced by the different monsters and their various cards and powers. However, for me there’s a bit too much all out luck rather than just pushing your luck, so it’s not a game I’m super excited about.

You Might Like...
  • All three monsters feel unique to play with interesting special abilities.
  • There is a learning curve to playing the game, if you can predict the monster who your opponent is playing and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • The artwork, characters and abilities have strong thematic ties.
You Might Not Like...
  • If you only play with two players, then you may not get the best out of this game.
  • If the possibility of bad luck with the card shuffle in each location will be a frustration.

The Verdict
The Curse of Misfortune Lane is a game that shouldn't be taken too seriously. It has a nice mixture of social deduction and push your luck, as well as fun theme and great comic book style artwork. It just wasn't at its best with two-players for us.

The Curse of Misfortune Lane was a prototype copy kindly provided to us by Howling Hog Games. Check out their Kickstarter campaign, launching on July 30th 2018.

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