So it’s rare that I’ll come into a game and immediately try to play it. But that’s what we did two Tuesdays ago at Quarterstaff Games, with a borrowed copy of A Touch of Evil. It had been my intent to at least read the rules before Tuesday evening, but that didn’t work out. So I flipped through, trying to figure out how the game goes while the other players sorted tokens and shuffled cards. Fortunately, not only is the game not overly complex, but it also has an introductory mode, where the monsters aren’t quite so tough. The one wrinkle we did introduce was going straight to cooperative mode, where the rulebook suggested starting with a competitive game.
Our heroes struggled against the evil vampire and his hordes of . . . bats. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great, either. We spent a lot of time wandering around the border, not having anything really terrible happen to anyone. I say that acknowledging nothing bad happened to my character. I think Cedar got KO’d more than once or twice.
A Touch of Evil is set up to be either competitive or cooperative, which leads to some elements not making a whole bunch of sense in one version or the other. For instance, there are town elders, who can be useful to the solitary monster hunter — provided they don’t secretly turn out to be evil, which may be the case, depending on the dark secrets they hide from the world. One of the things to do in game is investigate those secrets. In either mode, that makes sense, because elders can turn on the hero(es) at the worst possible moment, when they go to showdown with the villain. And that makes a lot of sense and is clearly an issue to deal with in competitive mode, when everyone’s on their own. But in coop, it never really seemed to be a problem. Partly because we played it wrong that first time at Quarterstaff, because apparently dead elders who were secretly evil did, in fact, only fake their deaths and return to help the villain in the showdown. Even then, though, it seems to be a matter of how long one waits to go to showdown. The more Mystery cards are drawn, the better the odds of the villain offing town elders, as there are a number of cards that do just that.
This was a very rough play for me, because I wasn’t very well prepared and spent what felt like a lot of time flipping through a rule book, trying to figure out the niceties as well as basic elements of play on the fly. I played A Touch of Evil again a week later, which I hope to write about in a bit, and it was nearly as rough, because we tried to leap to the advanced play rules, which introduced several more complications which none of us were sufficiently familiar with to remember every time they should have applied.