Date played: March 7, 2020
Basic details: 1-5 players, 60 minutes
Gist of the game: In this cooperative game, you work together with your fellow players to defeat the Universal Classic Monsters. Depending on the difficulty level, games may involve 2-4 monsters of any combination you wish. For the first game you play, the instructions specify to play with Dracula and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. From there, “novice” games involve 2 monsters, “standard” games involve 3, and “challenging” games involve 4. There are 7 monsters total to choose from, so there are a lot of potential combinations, increasing the replay potential.
The board is comprised of several locations (the docks, the laboratory, the cave, the camp, the crypt, the abbey, etc.) relevant to the various monsters in the Universal universe. Characters/heroes are also roughly taken from the movies, but are more archetypes (the courier, the archaeologist, etc.).
Each player’s turn involves 2 phases: the Hero Phase, where you complete the number of actions specified on your character card (most characters allow for 4, with 3 and 5 also possible in rarer circumstances). You can move your own character, with or without accompanying villagers, move a villager by themselves, play your character’s special action, pick up items, advance on a monster, or defeat a monster. Villagers basically extend the game play and serve as monster fodder, allowing you to sacrifice them instead of items to save yourself or allowing yourself to be defeated. Then comes the monster phase, which lets to place additional items on the board, as well as allows monsters to advance toward and potentially attack the nearest players (monsters can only attack once they are in the same location as a character or villager).
There are 2 ways to lose: The terror token advances to its maximum (technically, 7, though it’s labelled as 0-6 and then a death face) through the defeat of villagers and/or heroes, or you run out of time, which occurs when you need to draw a monster card during the second phase of your turn but there are none left in the deck.
Color commentary: Upon further reviewing our gameplay, we lost, but we were negligent in moving the terror token as we played, so we’re retconning it and saying we won. Only 4 villagers were sacrificed. Our characters were defeated a few. Probably enough to get us to maximum terror, but not much beyond. But again. Using our original interpretation of our gameplay, we won, and that’s the story I’m sticking to.
Regardless of whether you want to interpret us as winning or losing, I think this game was a real success for our marriage. The first cooperative game we played was Hanabi, once, after which I was hankering for a divorce. Call me a bad person, but it’s a little stressful trying to get everyone on board with your brilliant ideas and then keep everyone on task. Actually, Hanabi involved way more incomplete information, which was the real problem. We were able to be pretty transparent during game play. M was the most frequent monster victim, so early on I set about smashing Dracula’s coffins to be able to defeat him later. M was under pretty continual attack near the end of the game, so while he had made progress getting to the Creature’s lair, I finished that task, which let us move on to the defeat stage, which M was able to handle easily because the Creature was basically stalking him at that point and it was thus easy to be in the same location together.
Gameplay was straightforward enough, though I think forgetting to advance things on tracks is a recurring theme with me — they’re just always out of the way enough that it’s really easy to forget about and/or completely disregard them. Points tracks are different, I suppose, but tracks to keep track of phases? I can’t even.
Also, while game play is straightforward, there are a lot of components: you have two decks of cards, 60 total items, 7 monster minifigs (all of which comes with their own set of accessories — coffins for Drac, a location cover for the Creature, amulets for the Mummy, etc.), 7 possible characters, which include both a reference card and a standee, 10 villager standees, mats for each monster, 3 dice, the terror token, and a token to denote which monster is frenzied. It seemed reasonably manageable during the game, but it was a lot to handle in the setup and familiarization processes.
M’s thoughts: This is the most fun I’ve had playing “one of these” games in a long time (Petra here: I’m not sure how to interpret this phase, but I’m not sure I like it). Even more than Corleone’s Empire, King of Tokyo, AND Planet of the Apes (Petra again: this is high praise, as these 3 games all contain cinematic things that M particularly enjoys: The Godfather, Godzilla, and Planet of the Apes). Perhaps this game was not as much fun as the Groo game (Petra yet again: see our blog entry from November 2019 to learn more…it was fun, and based on a comic book character I grew up loving).
I think Horrified is a relative of Guillotine-type games, as there are a lot of cards/actions (i.e., monster attacks) that can derail your efforts (like having to start from the hospital after being defeated by a monster), but it’s only a relative . Medium- and long-term strategies are probably the best way to play, but there may be a lot of hiccups and setbacks. Because of all the monster/character combinations, I think the game has a lot of replay potential. Plus, the Universal Classic Monsters. And minifigs of them!