Werewolves: The Pact Mixes Up Classic Game

In Werewolves: The Pact, Asmodee and Lui-Même games combine The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow and its three expansions — New Moon, Characters, and The Village — in one box. That big box was available in stores Monday, Jan. 12.

The base game is based on the classic social deduction game Werewolf, also known as Mafia or Killer.

Nine to 47 people ages 14 and up can play, and it takes about 40 minutes for one of two things to happen: The werewolves eat all the villagers, or the villagers kill all the werewolves.

How it works:

In the base game, characters are either villagers or werewolves. Werewolves feast at night, agreeing on whom they will devour. In the morning, the villagers discuss who the werewolves might be, and then they vote on whom to lynch. Sometimes they kill a werewolf, sometimes they kill one of their own.

The New Moon expansion adds 36 event cards, which change the rules of the game each time one is added; nine variants — including the deliciously creepy Moonlight, which is played outside and involves blowing characters’ candles out when they die; and five new characters, each with its own unique abilities.

The Village adds 14 buildings that some villagers inhabit, which give them unique power in the village. They also make for easy targets. It includes three new characters, plus 29 roles.

The Characters expansion adds a stunning 17 new characters, each with its own abilities. Some of the characters are out for themselves or can switch sides.

There are other Werewolf games out there, most notably One Night Ultimate Werewolf. I’m not going to compare the games because I haven’t played any of the others.

Why you might want to buy Werewolves: The Pact:

If you often — or even occasionally — get together with large groups of people, this a great choice. It gets people talking, suspecting each other, and laughing.

If you like to act and set a scene, you may want to be the moderator of this game. You get to direct — and manipulate — the situation.

All of the expansions can be mixed, matched, and specifically customized for your group, giving you endless possibilities.

The art in this game is beyond compare.

Why you might NOT want to buy Werewolves: The Pact:

This game requires a moderator, and that person has to memorize copious amounts of information to play any of the expansions. The moderator has to know — or be able to quickly access — what each of the characters’ abilities is.

There are no words on any of the cards, so the players have to remember, too.

When I played, I had to write out a guide for myself. The book has a chart on the back explaining which characters wake up when, but it doesn’t tell what they do.

You also have to use the website, which is mentioned in the rulebook, for even the most basic setup, since the rulebook doesn’t say how many werewolves to villagers is optimal.

Some of the rules are ambiguous, leaving decisions up to the moderator.

If your group isn’t talkative, this game may be a tough sell. The only way it’s fun is if people are willing to debate. A good moderator can draw out the quiet folks, but that’s a tall order for anyone new to the game.

My conclusions:

The art in this game alone is worth the $49.99 suggested price.

If I had a group that loved social deduction but hadn’t played any Werewolf games, I would seriously consider this one. But that’s only if I wanted to take the time to learn the game as moderator.

The learning curve is steeper than it needs to be. Including a guide for the moderator on how to set up the game, and a quick version of what each character does when it wakes up would have made a purchase a no-brainer.

That said, the group I played with had a good time. And that’s what counts in the end.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of Werewolves: The Pact from Asmodee Editions. I was not required to write a positive review. This is my honest opinion.

Consumer Expert Teresa Jackson

I'm a journalist living in Central Oregon. I have two little kids, which for me has meant staying home. And playing board games.

Lots of board games.

I'm also an avid reader and a theology nerd.

You can follow all of my interests and personal quirks on Twitter @teresawjackson and at www.tablebyteresa.com.