Admittedly, horror has never been one of the ‘genres’ I have gravitated to in anything.
Yes, I saw the first Aliens, but never bothered with a sequel.
I read Dracula, but never became a fan of horror books.
As a result, I haven’t exactly gone looking for games with a horror theme.
But I am a deck-building game fan, so Mason Crawford’s Lockwood’s Asylum did catch my eye.
In terms of horror, the game drips with them.
“There have always been rumors surrounding the Lakeshore Asylum,” detailed the game’s successful Kickstarter fundraising page. “The strange fire back in the days of the Great Depression, the scandal involving the administrator and the flayed bodies in the ’40s, the missing patients that briefly led to the asylum’s closing in the ’70s … they were stories told around campfires by those who had not seen the horror first hand.
“When Dr. Lockwood took over the administration of the asylum, nobody had any reason to be concerned. The doctor was analytical, precise, driven: the perfect person for the job.
“Then Lockwood found the tome, and the rituals and experiments began …”
The art by David Romero, Alexander Solomon, and Jesh Pasiliano is creepy without being garish to further immerse players in the realm of horror.
For me, as luck sometimes happens, the game arrived in the post the afternoon of Oct. 31. It was Halloween, and a Wednesday, the night we typically gather the Meeple Guild for some gaming. So, of course, we broke out Lockwood’s Asylum.
We have played our fair share of deck-builders, and this one immediately set itself as better than most.
The reason was simple enough, this one allows for more player interaction than most deck-builders.
As the Kickstarter campaign noted, “Lockwood’s Asylum allows players to build not only their own decks but also the decks of their opponents. Each time a player purchases a monster or horror card, that card goes into the play area – or ‘room’ – of the player to their left.”
The element of influencing other players does make this far more of a ‘take that’ game, which may not suit all, but our group liked it a lot.
Any ally cards that a player purchases go into their own room, where they help defend against the monsters and horrors that have been placed there by the others players.
At the end of the turn, the allies, monsters, and horrors in the player’s room battle it out.
The next great feature here is that many cards have special features, some coming into play if the ally or monster survives a battle.
In other instances, special actions come into play if they are slain.
Every card has special rules and abilities and potential interactions that keep players interested in every card played.
If the monsters are able to overwhelm the player’s allies, then any excess damage lowers the player’s health. When a player is reduced to 0 Health, they are eliminated from the game. The last player left standing survives the night and claims victory.
Overall, this is an outstanding deck-builder, albeit with a darker theme than some. A must-own if you are a fan of the mechanic or the genre.
Check it out at www.blackoutgames.us
Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.