Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf

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Negotiation, wheeling & dealing, pleading, begging, threatening, awkward silence or sometimes utter chaos is what awaits anyone in the 10 minutes that it takes to play One Night Ultimate Werewolf (One Night).  In other words, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

One Night is a variant of the Ultimate series of the party game Werewolf. The premise behind Werewolf is that the players are all members of a village. At least 1 of the villagers is a werewolf that’s trying to kill the rest of them. It’s up to the villagers to try to determine who is it is and out them before they are all killed off. This normally happens in a series of day and night cycles. The wolves get to kill people at night and the humans try to find the wolf during the day. One Night, as the name says, only has 1 day and night cycle. It is a much faster game than its predecessors.

Published by Bezier Games in 2014, One Night was a surprising hit. It surprised me, anyway, because Werewolf can be quite polarizing. Sometimes people get offended or end up eliminated early and left with nothing to do for ages on end. One Night addressed these problems and was actually nominated for 4 Golden Geek awards for 2014 and is on the Spiel des Jahres recommended list for 2015.

For the TL;DR version click here.

Opening the box

Specs on the box:

  • 3-10 players
  • Ages 8 +
  • 10min (it can be shorter and if you want it to go longer you can do that too)

One Night is a party game; it is fun to play with groups of people. The box says 3-10 but it’s fairly easy to have more players. The 16 role cards are made from really thick, chunky card stock which will withstand 100’s of plays very easily. There are also 16 role tokens to help remind you which roles are in play

One Night ultimate werewolf review
There is not much in the small box, but the replay that it offers is fantastic.

Theme

The game is not heavy on the theme. It’s a light, fast and fun game so it does not need to be. The rule book has hardly more than a blurb about what’s going on. To be honest, it does not matter in the least.

The different roles that players can assume during the game are suitably thematic. You can make use of a companion app, which is not necessary but it does add a little something to the game. With it you can select from a variety of different background sounds and 2 different voices for the narrator. It also allows you to setup timers and you don’t need to remember what each role does; it gives you clear, concise instructions during the game.

Despite the theme of the game, werewolves killing villagers and villagers lynching people, it’s still family friendly. The artwork is cartoony and the feel is very light hearted. The same cannot be said for the normal versions of the game which can get rather cut-throat.

Gameplay

To start a game you select a number of roles from the box equal to the number of players +3.  Then each player is randomly given a role which they get to see and then place on the table face down. The remaining roles are placed within easy reach of all of the players and then everyone closes their eyes while a narrator instructs players, by role, to open their eyes and perform actions during the night cycle of the game.

Once all of the night actions are done the narrator will instruct everyone to open their eyes and then the fun begins. It’s up to the players to give or withhold information in an attempt to get everyone to vote for the player that they think is a werewolf. If you are a wolf then it’s your job to throw people off the scent and get them to vote for someone else.

The fun starts when you take a look at the roles and how they interact.

Here are a few of them:

  • First you have the 2 werewolves. They get to open their eyes and look for each other. If there’s only 1 wolf then he can look at one of the cards in the centre to see a role that does not exist in the game.
  • Then the Seer gets to wake up and, using her mystic abilities, checks one of the other player’s roles or 2 of the roles in the centre.
  • The robber gets to steal someone else’s role and then see his new role. The other person will not know that they have been robbed and have been turned into a robber, but the robber will know that that person is, now, just a human.
  • There is also a Tanner who is so disheartened with life that he wants to die but he cannot bear to kill himself, he only wins if the other players vote to lynch him, in which case everyone else loses.
  • The wolves can get a Minion on their side, he will see who the wolves are but they don’t get to see who he is. His job is to try to die for the wolves, if he does then the wolves get a win.
  • One of the trickier roles if the Troublemaker, who gets to switch any 2 other players roles without looking at them. This does as the name says and causes trouble!
One Night ultimate werewolf review
I really like the art style but felt that the counters were not needed.

Each player has some little nugget of information that can be contributed to the pool so that people can make an educated decision, the wolves (or team evil if there is a minion) can try to disrupt this with conjecture or outright lies.

Once the sun rises everyone has 5 minutes to make their case and then vote. If one of the wolves are voted for then the humans win, if a human is voted for then the wolves win.

Conclusion

Personally, I think it’s a fantastic game. The family loves it too. My kids actually try to get all our visitors to have at least a game or 2. It’s a lot of fun and plays very quickly; there are no complex mechanics to worry about and almost no setup/tear down time either.

It is important to note that there is no player elimination either. That was a problem with the normal version of the game; if you were eliminated early then you could have a very long wait while the game continued.

It is not everyone’s cup of tea though. Not everyone is forthcoming with the information that they have available. So that can slow things down. Others get intimidated by a boisterous group. Some people like to take time to get to know people so that they can try to read them better. I find that in these cases you need to play 2-3 rounds so that people can get used to the game.  Some people are just not comfortable with lying.

I don’t actually care who wins the game. I have a lot of fun playing it and dissecting the post-game wrap up, when we track what actually happened. In the space of a month it’s become the most played game I own for 2015, thus far.

Can I braai with this?

I have already 😉 It’s a party game and even if you have something to do and need to sit out a round you won’t have to wait long for the next round to start.

Everything packs away easily and it is very portable.
Everything packs away easily and it is very portable.
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