Many people have a particular game mechanic that always sounds fun to them. Mine is games that include a hidden role component. They take a regular game, add in a bunch of uncertainty, trust issues, and just plain fun.
Salem-1692 is one of those games. When you play, you find yourself in a small Massachusetts village. Witches have been found amongst your fellow villagers and your mission is to find the witches before witchcraft spreads throughout everyone you know. If you are a witch, your goal is to spread your influence to control the village.
The game has instructions that include how to play without a moderator, allowing everyone to play and have fun. Each player has a unique player role which helps provide a similar feeling to Werewolf, For those who dislike the feeling of being stuck with a boring regular villager, these rolls add the opportunity to become a witch. (However, some roles are still better than others.)
It takes more than just one vote to incriminate someone. Opponents work cooperatively to gather and place accusations on another player in order to force that player to prove his or her innocence by revealing one of the cards in front of them.
In the deck, there is a conspiracy card that triggers the conspiracy phase of the game. During this phase, each player will choose one of the face down loyalty cards from the player to their left. That new loyalty card will be placed into their tableau, replacing the loyalty card that was taken by the player from their right. To me, this is the best part of the game. If you were ever a witch you are always a witch. Which means if the player to my right removed the “Witch” card from in front of me, that player is now a witch. Also, since at one point in the game, I had a witch card in front of me I will also remain a witch. In almost a plague-like fashion games can go from the two starting witches to everyone being a witch, all but one victim.. I mean player, as the only non-witch character around the table.
When the draw deck is depleted, the last card of that deck will always trigger the night phase. The constable will secretly pick someone to protect from the witches. The witches will silently pick a villager to kill. Once it is day again the player who is protected by the constable will know they are protected. However, each other player will then choose if they want to confess. Confessing is done by flipping face up, one of their loyalty cards. By confessing, the witches cannot kill you even if they voted to do so. If you choose not to confess, you do not flip over a card, but you do risk being killed by the witches. If the witches did choose you, then you are removed from the game. Leaving one less villager at the table.
The game is largely social. For me, this is one of the biggest highlights. I am rarely trusted in these types of games. I love the random reasons as to why someone thinks another player is a witch and also the defences that people use to profess innocence. For example the last time I got to play, almost immediately I was told I had shifty eyes.
In my most recent experience, I had a turn where everyone around the table was shouting, accusing, and attempting to justify all of their action for almost 20 minutes trying to correctly identify the witches. The memories created playing Salem 1692 can be incredibly fun. The excitement of finding the last witch or getting to the point that witches gain control of the village is normally met with shouts of joy and frustration that are worth it time and time again.
When we play at SaltCon, I am sure our neighbor gamers might get annoyed when we play this game and are particularly excited or torn over who might be a witch.
I would recommend this game to anyone who loves fun games. (Unlike Andy who is against social games). It is a relatively easy game to learn and to play, not overly complicated, yet each time I feel included and special while playing.
It has 4-12 players and plays as quickly as 20 minutes and can go up to an hour. (Longer if you are like my friends and me and cannot decide on who may or may not be a witch). In my mind, it is best around 7-12 players.
It is completely worth the money, and available in stores and online. Check out Facade Games for this and their other games.