When I said Werewolf was a "terrible game I'll never play again", I meant it. Thankfully, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a different beast entirely.
Okay, so I've ranted about player elimination before. And before. There's one time I think player elimination is okay, and that's when elimination happens at the end of the game. In standard Werewolf, a game might last 5-10 rounds. The person eliminated in round 1 has to sit around for a long time before the game restarts. That ain't cool.
The conceit of Ted Alspach's One Night Ultimate Werewolf is that there is only one round. At the end, one player is killed. If that player is a Werewolf, the villagers win. Otherwise Team Werewolf wins. That's it. Game over man, game over! Time for game #2. As per the box: no moderator, no elimination, ten minute games.
That might sound curiously empty, but there's a good deal of intrigue, skullduggery, and deceit in ONUW. As well as all the intrigue of it's Werewolf heritage, it also steals roles from Ultimate Werewolf (also designed by Ted Alspach). So for example, the villagers might be a Seer (can look at another player's card), a Trouble-maker (swap other players' cards), an Insomniac (looks at their own card before daybreak), or a Mason (sees other Masons). Or a werewolf pretending to be a Mason.
So most players already have some information. By sharing information (or disinformation), one can deduce who is lying, and (hopefully) who is a werewolf. Add a countdown clock, and insanity ensues. To cap off the excellent game experience, Bézier Games provides an excellent app (for both Android and iOS), which provides all necessary player instructions (including background noise so you can't hear other players moving cards around), and a anxiety-inducing countdown timer.
Like The Resistance, One Night Ultimate Werewolf has spawned several children, including One Night Ultimate Vampire, One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak, the forthcoming One Night Ultimate Alien (due for a Kickstarter on August 29th), and One Night Revolution (a re-theme of ONUW into the universe of The Resistance).
Ever wonder how One Night Ultimate Werewolf/Daybreak residents are related? Here’s the official One Night Family Tree pic.twitter.com/8OWuCckZvO
— Bezier Games, Inc. (@beziergames) March 5, 2015
But honestly, if I had to pick one, go for ONUW. It adds enough to the basic Werewolf game to provide interest and strategy, without being unnecessarily complex. We had a go at ONUV during our office games night last Friday night. Now admittedly, the rules explanation was poor and left much to be desired, but nevertheless we were all thoroughly confused before, after, and during.
Not only was there team vampire vs team werewolf vs team human, but another entire layer of the game had been added, to allow for players being turned into vampires before dawn. Like a lot of expansions, it would add a lot of replayability for people who had overplayed ONUW, but for newcomers, it is too complex to be enjoyable.