Recently, I was lucky enough to find a smokin’ deal on this game and its expansion at my local entertainment exchange store. I had played it once before and thoroughly enjoyed it, so naturally, I jumped at the chance to pick up an unpunched copy, complete with extra supplements for less than half of store price. I am a huge fan of themed board games, especially horror themed, and this is one of my favorites. “A Touch of Evil” pits a band of brave civilians against an extra-nasty Villain and its Minions in a battle to save the quaint, 19th Century town of Shadowbrook from being overrun by darkness.
Thematically, the game is awesome. Play time usually lasts between 1.5 to 2.5 hours, but it honestly depends on the number of players. The base game can suit 2-8 players, and the “Something Wicked” expansion widens play possibility from 1-12 players. Needless to say, this creates some real versatility. There are various levels of difficulty and optional rules that can be added, so the game can be adapted for an experienced or inexperienced audience. In addition, it can be played competitively, cooperatively, or on teams against various creatures and monstrosities.
Each character has four traits: Spirit, Combat, Cunning, and Honor. Like many other games, these traits change as the game progresses and characters and monsters become stronger. Also, every character and monster has a certain number of Wounds they can take before they are KO’ed, setting them back in their investigation.
As players move through the game board(s), they will find themselves encountering various spaces. Out of these spaces, there are 4 (7 with “Something Wicked”) Location spaces, each of which has its own deck of helpful and harmful cards. These Locations require a draw from the deck, while other spaces may require a dice roll or allow a player to attempt to train and improve their stats.
Throughout the game, players may investigate the secrets of the 6 Town Elders, learning important information about each of them. This could range from learning that a given Elder is a coward and would run away from a combat situation, it could be that the Elder is a peeping tom or a similar fact that has no effect on the game, or it could be that the Elder is a Servant to Darkness, and is in league with the Villain. When a player feels ready to take on the monstrosity head-to-head, he or she may choose up to two Elders to bring along in a hunting party, so it is important that players know who they are bringing before they attempt the final fight. Players can also accuse Elders of being in cahoots with the Villain, possibly resulting in the accused Elder joining ranks with the Villain to fight a Hero to the death.
This one is a standout. One of the finest games I’ve yet to play. The initial setup can take a while, as there are hundreds of cards to be sorted and organized. To a first-time player, “A Touch of Evil” looks pretty intense. The sheer amount of dice, cards, and pieces can be overwhelming, but the game is rather easy to learn. Flying Frog Productions succeeded in making this game very adaptable, including varying degrees of difficulty and styles of play. In this way, it can be adapted for gamers of any experience level.
The game itself is very well made. The box art features eye-catching photo-realistic images of character models (see image of box), and the included pieces are very durable. The board is nice, glossy cardboard, the cards are sturdy and don’t bend easily (though this can make shuffling a challenge), and the figures are nicely detailed and ready to be painted if so desired. But, by far the best part of the game is the CD Soundtrack.
Yes, you read that right. This game has a full-length Soundtrack of creepy background music to enhance gameplay. I’ll be honest; the quality of the music on the Soundtrack isn’t even that good, but it’s just the sheer fact that there IS one. Total selling point, there.
One piece of advice, though. When I was about to purchase this game, I was with a friend who already owned it. He told me that expansion was well worth the money because it enhanced gameplay all the more. He was right. If you plan on getting “A Touch of Evil,” I would recommend getting “Something Wicked” as well. Get ready, though, because, come 2012, the third expansion will be released!
Get your wooden stake ready.
Overall Rating: A