CADAVER - A Game of Light-Hearted Necromancy
Published by Triple Ace Games (TAG)Designed by Kedric Winks
Superb Artwork from Augustinas Raginskis
CADAVER is unusual as it is for 2 or 3 players (or, as it says, "2-6 players with a second deck"). It is a game where players collect resource cards that are specific to various corpses for reanimation. Once a corpse has been Raised it is put to one side "to show they are no longer in play"; this is a phrase you should remember as it is very important and yet although it is in the explanation of the RESOURCES it does not stand out. Later in the rules, under GHOULS, there is a sentence "Laying a Ghoul allows a player to take any Corpse or Accomplice that an opponent owns and place it in front of themselves to show that they now own it". The wording "take any Corpse" could be taken to mean Raised Corpses because although they are "no longer in play" they are still on the table and thus (it can be argued because they count towards scoring at the game's end) still in the game although not currently in play. This is nit-picking I know, but rules lawyers could have a field day arguing the toss.
Taking it in good spirit (and believe me there are plenty good spirits here amongst the decomposed corpses) we have accepted that a Raised Corpse is not eligible for being taken by a Ghoul.
To set up the game take two of each Potions, Scrolls and Brains, from the deck and make three face up stacks in the centre of the table. Players are then dealt a hand of five cards, randomly delivered from the shuffled deck. Determining the start player is amusing - it is the player "closest to death" (our 75 year old player took umbridge as although he is 10 years older than I am he hasn't in as bad a way health-wise as I am) and "Death" was still wandering around DiscWorld so none of us were sitting next to him.
The Start player goes first - there's a novelty - and turns follow in clockwise order if there are three or more players, but if there are only 2 players then play can go clockwise or anti-clockwise. On their turn the players may lay one or two cards (or discard one or two cards or discard one card and play one card), how and where depends on the type of card(s) being played. Corpse cards and Accomplice cards are laid face up in front of the player, Resource cards are laid onto Corpse cards that require them, Ghouls are played on other players to steal a Corpse (not a Raised Corpse) or an Accomplice, Coffin Lids are placed on other players non-Raised Corpses to prevent the player placing Resources on them, Keys open and remove the Coffin Lid and Amulets can either be a replacement for any Resource (a joke ) or can be used to fend off an attacking Ghoul.
Players make their hands back up to five cards only at the end of their turn. Prior to ending their turn, i.e. before making their hands up, the players can trade cards from their hand with one other player if that player agrees to a trade. There isn't anything in the rules about it but we agreed that all trades would be honest (but then no-one ever wanted to trade because they didn't want to help the other player out - gamers huh ?)
The game is played until Dawn, which luckily always arrives just after the last card is drawn from the deck. Once Dawn arrives every player has one more turn in which the limit to the number of cards played or traded no longer applies and then scoring occurs.
You are trying to collect Raised Corpses, nothing else counts towards your score. Collect sets of (3 cards) same corpses, worth 5 points or sets of (3 cards) all different corpses worth 7 points. The Abomination Corpse is worth 3 points on its own whereas all other Corpses count as 1 point each.
Play is fast, there is little time to think and little to think about. Attempting to collect specific Corpses makes you a target for players with Ghouls and it also wastes turns. The cards are all randomly dealt and drawn except if you have one or more Accomplices as they allow you to choose cards from the Resource stacks (as long as they are available of course). An anomaly in the rules states that used Resources are returned to the bottom of the Resource piles, but seeing as each type of Accomplice is the same (there are 3 different types, one for each Resource) and has the same effect there is no point in placing used Resources at the bottom of the pile, just drop them on top of the correct stack.
CADAVER is a neat, meaty, quick game to play while waiting for the rest of your role-playing (or board gaming) group to arrive. We tried it with 4 players and only one deck and it worked but was over pretty quickly, though the scores were still similar to regular tally's in our 3-player games. It was delivered via the Kickstarter method where it appears to have sold at around $15.00 for the basic deck, and can be found in the UK at Leisure Games (store or online) for £12.99.