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All Manor of Evil Kickstarter Preview


Quick Look: All Manor of Evil


Designer: Travis R. Chance
Artist: Mike Riiven
Publisher: Kolossal Games
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 1-6
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 15-30 min

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

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



Review:

tl;dr: Role Deduction whilst looting H.P. Lovecraft's house for madness and profit. But mostly madness. Because as it turns out, he was right.

Getting to the Game: Each player gets a set of four action cards, a Skeleton Key, and a random role card. Remove the two clocks from the deck, and shuffle the remaining cards. Shuffle both clock cards in the bottom quarter of the deck when done. Choose one Elder God from each color, and place them bordered-side up on the table next to the house. Add the tokens nearby, the least sane player goes first and gets two madness tokens, as does the player on their left, everyone else gets one. It's time for some light B&E.



Depending on your role, you'll go about Lovecraft's house in slightly different ways, but here's the thrust: every round, you'll choose one of the actions in your hand to play. Everyone reveals the chosen action at the same time, and then resolves them in initiative order, stealing cursed and blessed objects alike from the manor. If there's nothing in the rooms you can steal from when it comes around to your turn, you get nothing, so plan wisely. Complete your objective without waking up two Elder Gods, and you just might escape with your life. Fail, and darkness falls.

Playing the Game: Since everyone has the same four-action set, the strategy comes in trying to deduce where your compatriots are going to try and steal from and make sure there's nothing for them there. All Manor of Evil adds a little piece of deduction by keeping your previous round's action on the table when choosing your next one. So, if you Pilfer on turn one, you're limited to choosing between Deceive, Study, and Inspect on turn two. You'll get Pilfer back as soon as you play another action--you don't have to spend a whole turn picking up all your cards. Right about here is where I started to lean into this game.



Each relic you steal adds both madness and value to your cache. If (and likely when) an Elder God awakens, whichever player has the most madness in their cache is devoured, so it becomes a delicate dance of balancing just how good the stuff you're taking is and how crazy it's going to make you. Some relics also force you to add awakening tokens to the Gods themselves, and once a God hits six tokens, it rouses from its slumber at the end of that round, and generally does something horrible to everyone. Pay careful attention, though, because if you awaken more than one God, their conflict consumes the world. Harsh, right?



The clock cards in the deck serve as a game timer--as soon as the second clock is revealed, the game ends with no Gods awakening. Most role cards want you to focus on one or the other, but your fellow players will be watching, looking for suspicious activity. Here's my first nitpicking detail with All Manor of Evil: there are social deduction aspects, but nothing really to do about them. Let's say I know that the player to my right is a Green Cultist, trying to awaken Yog-Sothoth. If I'm the reporter, I'm more interested in reporting on gruesome deaths, and less about giant Elder Gods. However, since the only interaction I have with other players is stealing from one of the two rooms on my action card, and hoping that I correctly overlapped with them, all I can really do is try to block them from the relics that help toward their God awakening. Still, the gameplay is such that I'm invested in what the other players are doing, and forced to pay attention to what their goals might be. After just a couple rounds, I'm fully in.



The actual gameplay is fast, like you're actually raiding a house. The speed of individual rounds is quick, and if you're paying attention you can actually annoy your fellow players a lot more than you think. Once the deck gets low, the tension gets crazy--by then you'll have a good idea who at the table is trying to do what, and manipulating the relics in the house to keep them away from their goal is absolutely delightful. Just make sure you know what your God's going to do when they awaken--each one could end your game if you're not careful.

Artwork and Components: Mike Riiven's art does a good job of evoking a Lovecraftian, art-deco environment, but comes across as too dark for my tastes. There's really great detail in cards like the god Hastur, and in some of the Rite relics, but other cards like Azathoth and even Cthulhu himself are so darkly saturated that it's hard to see what's there. This could actually be solved in production with a slight tweak to the saturation, though it's likely that this is a purposeful choice to bring out the bleak future everyone is about to endure. **Note: As I look through promotional materials being put out on Twitter and Facebook by Kolossal, everything looks bright and wonderful. I'm completely sold on the art after seeing those images, even if I haven't seen the final product in person.


  

Components are prototype, so I won't linger here. The cards and tokens I have are lightweight--actual production assets are likely to be much better. I've even been secretly told there might be acrylic in a deluxe version; a welcome addition.

The Good: Quick gameplay and light deduction while trying to balance madness and treasure. Secret role objectives are great fun, and a challenge to pull off.

The Bad: Art is just this much too dark for my personal tastes. I also wanted more direct player interaction.

Score: If Lovecraft and Cthulhu are your jam, you'll feel right at home here. Getting a chance to raid H.P.'s house while also trying to awaken one of his Gods is swimming in theme. There are also enough elements here to make a quick play time still feel relevant--while none of them are particularly deep, there's still plenty to think about. I'm giving All Manor of Evil a score of You're Coming to Take Them Away.


Check out All Manor of Evil on:

                 

On KICKSTARTER now! Ends November 15, 2018

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.
All Manor of Evil Kickstarter Preview All Manor of Evil Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by The Madjai on October 31, 2018 Rating: 5

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