Life in the 1300’s is tough. Everyone is just trying to make ends meet. Well, almost everyone. You always get those well to do people that you just can’t help noticing and wish that you had a slice of the pie that they were eating.
The Bloody Inn is a 2015 release from Pearl Games. This is a rather macabre game in which the players setup an Inn and then murder their guests and steal all of their cash.
For the TL;DR version click here.
Opening the Box
Specs on the Box
- 1-4 players
- +14 years (the theme is pretty dark, but the game itself is rather simple to play and teach so it’s up to you to determine who you want to play with)
- 45-60 min (I find 30 min is easy enough to reach even with 3-4 players)
In the box we have a stack of tokens representing 10F (Franc) cheques. We also have Tokens for keys to the rooms in the hotel. There is a set per players and a neutral set. There’s also a token per player used to track cash on hand. Lastly we have a simple game board, a deck of cards and the rules booklet.
I say that the board is simple in that it’s not entirely necessary. If you understand the layout then you could do without it and fit everything into a large deck box. I like the box cover though; I’m a fan of the art style.
I’ve sleeved mine in Mayday Euro sleeves.
We, the players, are all family. We see the rich folk moving through our country side to destinations unknown and wish we could be like them. To capitalise on this we have managed to setup a small Inn for them to rest and spend some coin.
Now, we are not the type of family to get along and work together; in fact we want to show each other up. So we want to get the most money as quickly as possible. To do this, we need to rid the travellers of their heavy purses as quickly as possible. This means killing them and robbing them. It’s not easy though and we can’t be caught red handed so we will end up bribing the locals and other travellers to aid us in our endeavours.
Setup is easy, layout the board in front of everyone. Then each player chooses a colour and grabs a player aid card and one 10F cheque. The deck of visitor cards is shuffled and then, based on the number of players, some cards are removed. This helps to keep the game fresh as it will play out differently each game additionally you can opt to play a long or short game, the short game just has extra cards removed from the deck. Then each player places one of his keys in front of a room of his choice and the remaining spaces (again based on the number of players) are filled with neutral grey keys.
The visitors are placed to the left of the board and each player is given 2 pheasants as their starting hand. The cards in your hand are the people that you have working for you. The first player will then invite guests into the hotel and assign them rooms, 1 at a time until all of the rooms are full.
Then each player will have a chance to perform an action.
These actions are:
- Bribe a guest or up to 2 peasants to come and work for you.
- Build an annex on the Inn
- Kill a guest
- Hide a body under a structure
- Pass your action to take your ill-gotten gains to the money launderer to convert into cheques
You need to bribe the guests to work for you. Then you can send them to kill the other guests and hide the bodies while you make off with the loot!
Each of the first 4 actions are performed in essentially the same way. Every guest has a rank. In order to perform the action with them, you will need to play cards from your hand. The number of cards that you play must equal the rank of the guest you are interacting with. So if you wanted to bribe a rank 2 guest you will need to play both of your starting peasants.
Bribing guests gets them into your hand so that you can play them in later turns.
Some guests have a little building icon on their cards. You can play cards from your hand equal to the rank of that guest in order to build an annex to the Inn. The card now becomes an annex which will usually grant you a special ability like reduction in bribing costs or allowing you to bury more than 1 corpse per turn. Each annex can have a number of bodies buried under it equal to the rank of the card itself.
Killing a guest is just that, they are now dead. You take the guests card and play it face down in front of you. You can still see their rank and how much cash they have on them. You only gain that cash when you bury the corpse. If you bury them under an annex that you own then you will get all of the money that they have, simply move your tracker up the required number of spaces.
If you bury them under an annex that you do not own then you have to split the ‘earnings’ with the owner of that annex. It’s important to note that you can have at most 40F in your pocket at any time. In order to have more money you need to launder it into cheques.
Different guests like performing different actions, e.g the clergy like to bury bodies while the constabulary enjoy killing people. If you play any clergyman when burying a body they will return to your hand while all the other cards that you played will be people who hate burying bodies and they will leave your service. They are discarded.
There’s a decent amount of hand management involved in the game as you need to plan your actions very carefully. You need to bribe the right guests in order to perform the actions that you will be performing in future turns.
Then each player will get to play another action, so 2 actions each per round. Once everyone has done their 2nd action any police officers in the hotel will do an inspection. If they find any bodies (i.e. you’ve not buried them them) you will be in trouble so before they get to your side of the building you will need to call the grave digger to cart off all of the bodies that you have left, for a hefty fee. They are then removed from the game.
After they have done their rounds any surviving guests will file out of the hotel paying the owner of their room 1F for the accommodation for the night. Then any guests or peasants that you have in your hand will need to be paid for their services, 1F each or they will leave your services. They cannot be paid in cheques, only from cash in hand, so manage your funds wisely.
You repeat the turns until the deck of visitor runs out. When this happens it gets reshuffled and you have 1 more run through the deck. This time it will be quicker as some of the guests will already be dead, and buried.
When the deck of guests runs out for the 2nd time the game is over. The player with the most money wins.
The Bloody Inn isn’t brilliant. It is fun though, in a very macabre way. I have yet to find anyone that does not like the theme. I guess that says a lot about my circle of friends 😉
I won’t recommend it as a family game especially for little kids. I do play it with my kids though, because I’ve watched kids TV with them and this is tame compared to some of the stuff that’s out there.
Anyway what do I like about the game aside from the theme? The hand management is kind of tricky, as is the fact that you can only perform 2 actions per round. It feels like you really need to have 3 actions to make everything just perfect but you don’t. You’ve got 2 but, if you’re sharp, you can try to remember which guests are going to be coming back in the 2nd shuffle of the guest deck and plan ahead for them.
The burying of corpses is also fun. You can bury corpses under your opponents’ annexes. This is great in 2 ways. If you have a corpse with very little cash on it and space is limited you can force your opponents to share bigger hauls with you while you give them very little in return. Also if you fill up all of the available annexes you can force your opponents to get caught with unburied corpses costing them 10F each to remove.
It’s clever, it’s sneaky, it’s tricky, it’s dark and it’s funny. That’s my cup of tea.
How does it play solo?
Solo is a beat your previous high score affair i.e get as much money as you can before the game ends. There’s no AI or automata to speak of, you’re not really playing against the board but you are trying to be as efficient as possible. That takes a decent amount of planning.
Normally games of this nature can be a bit boring, this one I find to just hit the spot when I want to play a quick game. The deck of guests changes every game, and the order of the guests changes too so every game is different. This does mean that sometimes you can get a really bad set of guests to play with and other times have 0 cops which can make it easier but this just makes it more repayable.
The quick setup and the ability to run a short game makes it ideal for when I have a few minutes to spare and don’t really want to start something that I’d not want to stop.
Can I play this at a braai?
Easily. You can step away from the game to tend to the fire and that will give the others more time to plan their moves, which it always seems like you don’t have enough of. However, leaving the table can lead to the others conspiring against you so keep the braai nearby so you can overhear the skinner.