Halloween Gaming – One Night Ultimate Werewolf

by on 31/10/2014

Halloween is here folks, and as a nod to this most awesome and spooky of holidays, I’ve decided to review my top choice for a Halloween party game. So without further ado, may I introduce you to One Night Ultimate Werewolf!

Now, ONUW is not a new game as such, but a twist on the classic role-play game Werewolf, in which players were each assigned a role, such as a seer, a villager, a huntsman, or even the werewolf itself. Someone would then narrate the story, with the players all closing their eyes, then ‘waking up’ at various points as the narrator read out their role. In this way, the players would glean important information; but of course, not everyone had the same intel which led to lengthy discussions as people accused and counter accused the other players of being the baddies. Each day of the story would end with a vote to kill one of the players in a bid to take out the werewolves. Get it wrong however and a villager would be eaten!

Now the original Werewolf was a blast, but it tended to take a while plus one player could never actually participate as they had to keep their eyes open the whole time to read the story. It also doesn’t lend itself well to non-gamer types who may not want to join in a game that involves sitting quietly for long periods of time. One Night Ultimate Werewolf sought to change this, and by golly did they do well!

Box art is both cartoony and foreboding

As the name suggests, ONUW is played over a single ‘night’, meaning a game takes around 10 minutes. Each player is dealt a card with a role, plus three ‘unknown’ cards in the centre of the table to add an element of mystery to proceedings. One player (unless you download the free app) reads out the story, with people opening and closing their eyes at various stages of the tale; as in the original, different roles will allow the players to obtain bits of information with which to deduce who the werewolves are. The Robber for example can swap a card with any player, whilst the Seer can either look at another player’s card or at two of the unknown cards on the centre of the table.

By using cards for the roles, plus the addition of not knowing what the three extra cards are, players are rarely certain of who is who. The sense of intrigue is palpable, which I absolutely loved! It became a singular matter of pride to lie yourself out of being considered a werewolf, and staying quiet often brought suspicion down upon you so players are almost forced to actively engage; this is a subtle yet strong mechanic to ensure full engagement from the participants which I found to be one of ONUW strongest selling points.

Once the story is over and everyone is ‘awake’, it’s up to the players to reveal information (or not!) in an attempt to winkle out the furry people-munchers. At the end of discussion, the players take a vote; the player with the most votes is killed off. If a villager is killed, the werewolves win; if the villagers kill a werewolf, the villagers win. Simple!

One thing to remember when playing is don’t get too hung up on winning. ONUW often comes down to players having to guess who the werewolves are which in the minds of more strategic gamers could be incredibly frustrating. ONUW is designed specifically for large groups, is inclusive of any level of gamer and to have a short playtime. Don’t expect to occupy a whole evening with ONUW; this game is filler designed to quickly engage and stimulate conversation amongst the players.

A selection of the role cards

One downside to this game is the price. The card stock is amazingly thick and robust, whilst the artwork is a superb cartoon style with a muted pallet, designed to look that little bit foreboding. All this however means you’ll be lucky to get change of a £20 note. The box also includes a set of tokens to assist with random choosing of role cards, or to show to the players what roles are currently ‘in play’ when trying to figure out who is who; the tokens to me felt very superfluous as the games lack of complexity makes it easy to remember what roles are in play, and it was rare that we selected the roles to include at random. Removal of these tokens could have helped get the cost down. Fortunately, the storyteller app is free to download.

I adore this game, as it creates stories of its own, pulling people together in a neat, tight package of a game that engages all no matter what your gaming background is. If you can get over the price, I’d recommend this game to anyone.

For an example of how the game is played, check out this video from the game’s designer, Ted Alspach.

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