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Growl Preview

Quick Look: Growl

Designer: Joey Vigour
Artist: Rob Joseph
Publisher: Vigour, Inc.
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 4-7
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 10-15 min

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Growl. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.


tl;dr: Very light werewolf-themed social deduction party game. 

Getting to the Game: Growl sets up quickly, and all the information you need to play is on the cards themselves. The deck needs to be tailored to the number of players a little, but overall it's a speedy process to get playing. 

Learning Growl is a snap for anyone who's ever played Mafia, That-Other-Werewolf game, or any other social deduction games. Growl is built for efficiency of play, so there are almost no mechanics to learn other than how Night works. You won't have any issues teaching this game to the 10-year-old it says is the minimum age.

Playing the Game: Growl starts each player out with 4 cards in hand, and the first one you get will determine if you're a human, or if you're the "Wolf Zero" (or one of two in a 6-7 player game). From there, the deck is turned upside down so all the cards are face-up, and the first player chooses another player to be given the top card. Cards range from beneficial Salves and Charms, innocuous Gold, to treacherous Wounds and Bites. Players lobby for or against being given the current card, and once a decision is made the deck moves to the next player. 

If at any point in the game, you possess three Bite cards that aren't cancelled out by Charms, you become a werewolf and your job is now to infect the rest of the humans. Gather three Wound cards that aren't cancelled by Salves, and you're dead. Enjoy your respite from the hunt, and we'll see you next time. 

There are a couple ways to add cards into your hand. Apart from the top card from the deck being assigned around the table, there are three Nights that will take place at roughly even intervals in your game. Each night is denoted by a special card in the deck, and each has a unique event that triggers. After that event, each night plays out the same way: each player will send one of the cards from their hand to the player on their left, and another to the player on their right (humans can't pass bites during the night, but werewolves can.. and will). Once you've been passed two cards, you'll shuffle them up, look at them, and add them to your hand. Play then starts again with the top card of the deck.

If this sounds like pretty standard fare, you're right. The fun of these games lies in the group you play with, and whether or not the game lends itself to accusatory moments. In Growl's case, those moments are immediately following the Night phases. In one of our games, I (as a human) trusted the player on my right, who had earlier been passed a Wound by a player I didn't trust. On the first night, I handed them a Salve, and picked up my two shuffled cards to find they were both Wounds. I had one Wound already in my hand, and since I had given the Salve that was soothing that wound away, I silently flipped over my helper card to the back, and tried very, very hard not to give them both the dirtiest look I could muster. Conversation got very lively at that point, with my right-hand player admitting that he was given a Salve, and that he passed a Wound. Eyes darted to my left-hand player who tried to keep a stone face, but then erupted into giggles. From there, let's just say play got interesting.

Games that can facilitate these kinds of moments get brought back to the table when game night gets too large for more traditional board games, and my group agreed that Growl's simplicity and elegance would probably earn it another go-round at our weekly meeting. I mean, the sheer ridiculousness of Growl's forced endgame task of making Wolf Zero literally growl, and then having all players who were turned into werewolves growl with them should give you some ideas of what you're looking at here.

Artwork and Components: Rob Joseph has done a great job here. The cartoony characters on the card backs and the adorable-yet-menacing wolves on the bite cards clash really nicely with the nearly-actually-terrifying werewolf cloud on the card backs (Fright Night homage?). The feel of the game is very good, and the iconography on the cards is excellent. You can play this entire game while only looking at the top-left corner of every card. 

The Good: Plays quickly and the Night mechanic is fun. Good opportunities for paranoia and accusation.

The Bad: Mostly standard stuff, doesn't bring anything new or innovative to the genre. 

Score: While we liked Growl for people getting into the social deduction game space, if you already have a favorite traitor game, this one doesn't do anything worth replacing that one. If you're a fan of the genre, it's worth picking up for the art and as a change of pace. As it stands, this is a fine chapter in a flooded market. I'm giving Growl a score of Mostly Bark, Little Bite.


Coming to KICKSTARTER soon!

About the Author:

Nicholas Leeman has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints, a professional baseball team. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.
Growl Preview Growl Preview Reviewed by The Madjai on March 20, 2018 Rating: 5

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