We’re back with the third installment in our Tabletop Terrors series, and if you’re looking to embark on a supernatural adventure in the comfort of your own home, Flying Frog’s A Touch of Evil is the game for you!
Flying Frog Productions makes incredibly cinematic board games designed to evoke the feelings of genre films we all love. Using a signature style of artwork featuring photographs of models in full makeup and costumes rather than artwork, their games immediately put you in the movies you love to watch.
In Last Night on Earth, it’s your group of survivors versus the zombie apocalypse in a setting reminiscent of the early undead classics. In Invasion from Outer Space, you’re dropped in the middle of a Martian invasion of Earth right out of a 1950’s drive-in flick.
A Touch of Evil, then, is a Hammer horror masterpiece brought to life in a board game.
The year is 1799, and monsters run wild in the new nation of America. The town of Shadowbrook is beset by a supernatural menace that has infiltrated its populace and feeds on its citizens with impunity. Thankfully, you have arrived: monster hunters prepared to combat the evil and save the town from a terrible fate.
High collars, highwaymen, and classic creatures are the name of the game in A Touch of Evil, all with a Grand Guignol, Gothic feel.
Players are the hunters. As with all Flying Frog games, players choose a character to play in the game. Each character has special abilities and different statistics to aid them in their hunt, and over time they will accumulate items and weapons to protect themselves and attack the seemingly endless waves of horrors infesting Shadowbrook.
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At the beginning of the game, a primary villain is selected. Options in the core set include an animated scarecrow, a vampire, a werewolf, and my personal favorite: the Headless Horseman! Each villain has special abilities and attacks that are triggered during a turn at the end of each round of play. They also have a set of minion creatures that are generated by the game to harass and attack our heroes.
Players can work against each other to try to be the first to defeat the boss villain or, using a co-operative variant, can work together against a much tougher villain in a grand final all-or-nothing battle.
As hunters move around the board using a dice in traditional board game style, they investigate locations, gain gold, and fight minions. Their goal is to locate the lair of the villain and build their forces enough to attack and kill it successfully. The town itself is available to them to build their stats, buy items from a blacksmith, and heal wounds.
The town also has six elders. An elder can be selected to form a hunting party when a player attacks the villain it its lair, but there’s a problem: Some of the elders have been corrupted by the villain! If a corrupt elder is chosen, they turn traitor and attack with the villain. Investigating the elders to discover their secrets is another task the players must do while they track the villain, lest their final attack is betrayed and they meet a grisly fate.
As with most Flying Frog games, a “doom counter” clicks up each round, and the villain wins if the hunters have not killed it by the time the clock runs out.
Attacks and some story events are resolved using “stat checks” similar to role-playing games. Rolling against various stats the characters possess, modified by items and skills, decide whether they find a treasure or a trap, hit a minion or are hit by one, and other events. Searching some of the locations in the game uncovers cards specific to that location that move the story forward and bring either fortune or ill to our band of hunters.
This is where the story comes in. Each card has “flavor” text explaining what happens to the player who pulls the card. As the game progresses, these cards tell a story of what’s happening in the story being played. Evidence of the lair’s location might be found, or an artifact of great power could be located. An ally could be attained to accompany a hunter, or a cache of weapons or gold could be uncovered.
By the time you finish a game of A Touch of Evil, you’ll have played through a unique horror “film” beginning to end. The best comparison I can make is an episode of “Supernatural” set in the 18th century. In fact, if Flying Frog ever wanted to dabble in licenses, there’s a “Supernatural” board game in here they could create with some new art assets.
Flying Frog games have two features beyond the high quality and unique photographic elements to make them one of my favorite game companies. First, each game comes with a soundtrack CD to accompany the gameplay. The music sets the mood perfectly, creating a much more immersive experience. Second, they always make several expansions for each title. A Touch of Evil has two large expansions that provide a new board to add to the existing town of Shadowbrook as well as new cards, heroes, and villains. Adding these two expansions effectively triples the size of the board! They also have “hero packs” that contain new heroes and a new villain to give even more play. Finally, they have several free villains on their website to print yourself, including a demonic nutcracker for holiday gaming!
A Touch of Evil is a fantastic experience for two or more players who enjoy the classic Hammer films set during the days of muskets and sabers. It’s a game of medium complexity that isn’t terribly difficult to set up or play. Players with experience in RPG’s will get started faster than others as they’ll be familiar with stat checks and management. It only takes about as much room as a game of Monopoly with the base set but gets quite large if you start adding the big expansion boards, so be ready if you purchase those.
Pro Tip: I advise adding a copy of “A Touch of Evil” by Judas Priest to your game soundtrack. It provides the perfect end credits song to the experience.
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