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HORRIFIED: MONSTERS

On the back of VILLAINOUS (which we hope will still keep going forward and strong for some time) RAVENSBURGER have launched a new game with monsters of movies, books and legends.

This is a good, fun game for 1-5 family players who enjoy the old school Hammer/Seven Arts horror movies. Grandparents will have great fun introducing younger players to the creatures of their young youth that had them checking under beds and in closets before going to sleep at night.

Like all good media where Monsters are involved there have to be the downtrodden Villagers, and of course the heroes who take up the banner to save the world from the rampages of these fearful and powerful Creatures. HORRIFIED combines all of these; Villagers, who need help to get to safety, Monsters/Creatures, who, for reasons known or unknown, blame the world around them for their plight (or simply just enjoy frightening or biting the life out of mere humans), and finally the Heroes who take it on themselves to locate and end the lives of the destructive demon-like devils in disguise.

If you haven't guessed already, and I'm sure you have, the players take on the rôles of the Heroes. The Villagers are there to be saved and the game mechanics determine how the monsters act. Apart from the seven colourful plastic miniatures for the Monsters all other characters, Heroes and Villagers, are represented by card standees - the villagers in nondescript clear bases, the Heroes in bases that match main colour of their standee. 

 

We like very much that it takes just ONE Action to collect any number of Items from a single space. Items are required for defeating Monster's tasks and then for defeating the monsters themselves. They are easy to collect when they are available but they are only available at the setup of the game and then when Monster cards are flipped over.

The Items come in three varieties: Blue for Strength, Red for Physical and Yellow for Spiritual. They are randomly drawn from a sack and placed on the board spaces allocated to them on the last section of the tile. Items can be swapped amongst players, freely, as long as the Heroes are on the same space - not sure if the Archaeologist can collect from another player in the adjacent space/s, though they cannot give in the same manner.

Items can be used to deflect damage (prevent injury). The illustration on the item has no influence on the subject attacking or the type or style of the attack. One injury defeats a Hero or Villager. Villagers cannot be attacked when they are in their place of safety but if they are defeated while en route they are removed from the game; defeated heroes are sent to the Hospital and can return to play with all Items and Perks intact at their players next turn.

 

One of the Monsters, usually the one with the lowest Frenzy Order, is given the Frenzy Marker. Frenzied creatures are more ferocious and will attack more often than non-frenzied; there will always be one Frenzied Monster in play.

The number of Monsters involved depends on how difficult the players want the game to be; the more Monsters the harder. Each Monster has a protection (of sorts) that needs to be taken care of before the Heroes can confront them. The basics of these creatures are:

Creature from the Black Lagoon: Steer the Boat through the Lagoon to discover the Creature's Lair.
Dracula (Red): Locate and destroy all four of his Coffins.
Frankenstein and his Bride (Darker Green & Green): Use their own Humanity against them. You need to defeat both but not necessarily at the same time.
The Invisible Man Blue): Prove his misdeeds and trap him by blocking his hideouts.
The Mummy (Yellow): The famous Mummy's Curse needs to be broken.
The Wolf Man (Brown): Create the antidote to cure him.

 

There are seven Heroes for the players to choose from. This choice is usually by having the character dealt randomly to each player, though I suggest for your first game or two you select your Heroes carefully.

Archaeologist (Yellow): Starts in the Docks. Has 4 Actions. SA: Can collect items from an adjacent space.
Courier (Pink): Starts in the Shop. Has 4 Actions. SA: Place your Hero in any space with another Hero.
Explorer (Green): Dora (not really) starts in the Camp. Has 3 Actions. SA: Place your Hero in any non-water space.
Inspector (Orange): Starts in the Precinct. Has 4 Actions. SA: Place your Hero in non-water space where there is a monster.
Mayor (Red): Starts in the Theatre. Has 5 Actions. Is the only player without a Special ability.
Professor (Plum - it had to be): Starting in the Hospital (not Museum or University). Has 4 Actions. SA: Move a Character.
Scientist (Blue): Starts in Institution. Has 4 Action points. Adds 1 to Strength of any Item you use.

 

As a cooperative game the players really do need to work together, more so if there are more than two Monsters in play. To win, all the players need to do is defeat all of the Monster's tasks and then all of the Monsters - easy! (Yeah right!) The monsters win if their Monster deck is exhausted (remember the more players the quicker the deck is used up) or if the Terror Level Track marker reaches the Skull space (aka #7). This marker moves when Villagers or Heroes are defeated.

Monster cards have three sections, each of which is activated when the card is flipped over from the top of the deck. One card is flipped per player's turn in the Monster Phase. These cards determine how many Items are added to play as well as which monsters act - sometimes cards depict monsters not in play, these activities are passed over.

Heroes begin with one Perk card each and gain others by guiding Villagers to safety. Perk cards can be played at any time, in any player's turn. Discuss Perks with other players prior to using them, everyone will no doubt have their own opinion, so if nothing else HORRIFIED evokes great table conversation.

 

Every component has the quality expected from a Ravensburger product. The standees are strong, though there is no need to remove them from their bases after each game, the cards are good stock, the rules are colourful and instructive with lots of examples and illustrations/photographs. 

As a race against time genre of game it is good family fun. It is a reasonable introduction to games away from what most British families still think of as normal board games (Monopoly etc) plus it is a great way to familiarise younger players (in particular) with the golden greats of Hammer/Seven Arts horror movie characters.

In the same vein as VILLAINOUS this is a game for families who like 60 mins-90 mins around the dining room table playing games. Its strategies depend on the players working together, the cards they have available to them, the Heroes they have and how they go about defeating the different tasks for each villain - this also brings into account the number of Monsters in play.

There are a good number of standees, cards and tiles and at first it looks like it is going to be both complex and complicated. It is neither. 

VILLAINOUS, MARVEL VILLAINOUS, and HORRIFIED are great games to give or receive as Christmas or Birthday presents. They involve everyone who is playing, they don't kick players out of the game.

 

Non-Game information:

These movies shared with us not only tales of disfigured, angry, creatures of fang, fur and scales, but also inherently evil and callous creatures of the night such as Dracula. Reading between the lines of the classic stories of The Wolf Man, The Mummy, Frankenstein etc you find stories of love, compassion, misunderstanding, fear of the unknown (or panic and terror of anything different/out of the ordinary).

The Creature from the Black Lagoon is  a piscine amphibious humanoid happily living his life in a secret Amazonian lagoon until he is discovered, frightened, attacked and eventually killed by human scientists. Made famous by the 1954 movie in 3D.

Dracula: From the Bram Stoker novel and numerous movies, the main character famously being played by Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee. The novel is a classic, yet delved into makes little sense. Count Dracula is a Vampire in Transylvania who wants to move to England to turn people into the Undead and continue the Vampiric line. The thing is, there are no notes on any attempts to turn people in Transylvania into vampires.

Frankenstein: Created by Mary Shelley in 1818 and given to the movie going public in 1931 (with Boris Karloff in the main rôle) Frankenstein is not, as is often thought, the name of the monster. Henry Frankenstein is a scientist obsessed with creating life. He is helped by his hunchback servant, Fritz. He takes body parts and sews them together but his creation, when indeed it comes to life, is not that of a regular human being because unbeknownst to him, Fritz has brought him the brain of a deranged criminal. OOPS!

Frankenstein's Bride: The first (in 1935) sequel to the 1931 film, again starring Colin Clive (as Dr Frankenstein) and Boris Karloff.  Doctor Septimus Pretorius takes over the bringing of life from his former mentor (Dr Frankenstein) and the immortal vision of Elsa Lanchester as the 'Bride' is born and cast into history. 

The Invisible Man: H.G.Wells wrote the novel in 1897. In 1933 the first movie was made. Claude Rains gained immortality, not by his portrayal of Dr (chemist) Jack Griffin (aka the Invisible Man) but in the song 'Science Fiction' which opens every version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. 

The Mummy: True History - In 1922 Howard Carter located and opened the Tomb of Tutankhamun and the rumour of a curse began. 1932 Movie History - In 1921 Sir Joseph Whemple locates the Tomb of Imhotep with an intact Mummy in the sarcophagus; said casket was cursed. Boris Karloff brought to life the bandage-wrapped bringer of doom. The plot was possibly contrived from various sources, such as a Conan Doyle short tale and a treatment about the occultist Count Alessandro di Cagliostro.

The Wolfman: An unsuccessful (financially) 1935 movie 'Werewolf of London' became the inspiration for the 1941 'The Wolf Man'. Like Frankenstein's Monster, the Wolf Man isn't inherently evil, it is circumstance over which control was impossible that cause the lovable and heroic Larry Talbot to turn into a fanged, furry beast, when the full moon glows. The great Lon Chaney Jr brings humility to the title rôle. The movie also stars Claude Rains and Bela Lugosi.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015