One Night Ultimate Werewolf – First Impressions

I’ve been seeing One Night Ultimate Werewolf from Bézier Games everywhere (aka Target and Barnes & Noble). I’m always in the market for party games that are 6+ players. One Night’s 3-10 player and 10 minute play time are extremely attractive (recently my group has favored multiple short/medium length games as opposed to an epic marathon game). Veteran designer Ted Alspach has been on a roll with Suberbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig, and when I recently noticed that his One Night Ultimate Werewolf had ranked #15 on BGG’s party game list, I resolved that this New Year’s Eve would be the perfect time to finally grab this one and give it a go.

Quick Overview

One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a revamped version of Akihisa Okui’s take on Werewolf-style deductive games. It is a quick co-op where players must work together to figure out who among them is a blood thirsty werewolf.

Players sit in a circle and each is dealt a role card which they secretly view and memorize. There will always be 3 extra role cards which are laid face-down in the middle of the table. In the beginning players have very little knowledge concerning roles other than their own. Next the game is played in two phases: Night Phase and Day Phase.

During the Night Phase, all players must close their eyes and instructions are given one at a time that allow players to preform simple actions depending on their role. For example, the werewolves (there can be more than 1) get to open their eyes for a few seconds to identify each other. The seer role gets to peak at another player’s role or two of the unused roles in the middle of the table. The player with the robber role gets to secretly switch his role with another player. And so on. Once all instructions have been given and actions preformed, the night phase is over and players can open their eyes.

Now that day has dawned and players are savvy to a little more information concerning people’s role identities, it is time to discuss, debate, and deduce the identity of the werewolves. During the Day Phase, players are allowed to say anything including what their role is and the results of the action they preformed during the Night Phase. Also, player are not bound to the truth; in fact, if a werewolf is to survive it might have to tell a few fibs and make a few false accusations. The only thing that is verboten to players is looking at role cards (including their own, which might have changed during the Night Phase). Finally, players vote on who to kill. The player who receives the most votes reveals its identity. If it’s a wolf, the human roles win. However, if the wolves survive, they win and all the humans will make a delectable dinner.

Awesome Companion App

There is an amazing app (Android and iOS) that calls out the instructions during the night phase and provides some background music to cover up the sounds players might make while preforming their secret actions. It is not required, as one of the players can do the work of MC, however, this app is so well done and really adds to the theme and ambiance of the game. I can’t suggest it enough!

What I love:

  • Theme and Artwork: The werewolf theme is super fun, especially in a game where players close their eyes and secret actions are happening around them. Though few, the components look really good; Gus Batts’ artwork is superb and adds even more to the Gothic werewolf theme!
  • Fills Party Niche: I tested this game with a few gamers, but our group consisted mostly of people who haven’t had much exposure to the wonderful world of strategy boardgames. (Including my mom, who thinks all my games are weird, and a few youngsters under the age of 13). Everyone loved One Night Ultimate Werewolf and wanted to play again immediately. I was worried that the non-gamers would lose every time they were the werewolf role, but by the second or third game our wolves were starting to get very clever and began extending their average life expectancy. It wasn’t long before all of the adults wanted dealt in and began kicking out the kiddos. I was very pleased that this game plays well for both hardcore gamers and noobs.

What fell short:

  • Competition: Because the game is so short and is a co-op with multiple winners, sometimes the game lacks the feeling of competition. If your group is familiar with co-ops then this might not be such a bad thing, but many groups might find the lack of competition diminishes the long term fun. It might help to keep score over several games. We tried counting losses and eliminating players after a set amount.
  • First Play Woes: It is definitely one of those games where it’s just easier to do a quick play through rather then explain all the roles. When first learning, it might be difficult to win as a werewolf which could frustrate players and lose their interest. Luckily, games are so short that you can do several plays in no time at all and players can get the hang of it before they get too frustrated. To sum it up, this game might turn off a few players in their first few games, but after that they’ll be hooked.

Overall Thought:

Very pleased with One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Perfect party game: <10 min, up to 10 players, great theme, and good looking. Also, a great game to introduce new gamers to strategy and co-op style games. Not epic, but fun and addictive. Multiple roles add variety and replayability. Don’t forget the free companion app!