One Night Ultimate Vampire Review (Tabletop)

One Night Ultimate Vampire (ONUV) is a vampire themed hybrid tabletop game with social play emphasis, a digital mobile app companion, and fast, paranoid gameplay.

ONUV is played with cards, tokens and other objects. There are two teams: humans and Vampires. Each player has a unique role, traits, qualities and features defined by the character token they’re randomly given.  The Vampires’ goal is plain survival done by manipulating the humans and driving them into suspecting each other of being a Vampire, leading them to attack each other rather than the real Vampires. The goal of the humans is to fight this propaganda, and figure out who the real Vampires are and kill at least one of them. One dead vampire and they lose, none, and they win. Vampire’s abilities include actions that do humans harm, for example biting. Similarly, human actions help their team, for example, one token makes it possible to heal a supposed vampire. Some of the characters can move the tokens around and others are traitors seeming to be on one side while belonging to the other. This creates mostly satisfying confusion and paranoia.

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The game has two unique rounds: night and day. Each night, everybody except the current playing character closes their eyes so the actions of the active player are unknown to others. The voice of the digital app companion lays out the instructions. After each player’s individual turns in the nighttime, the daytime begins, which is a guessing phase, eyes open once again. The time is limited and together all the players must come to a shared conclusion of which one of them are the Vampires. The votes are cast simultaneously. The games’ mechanics are simple but compensated by the complexity of the sub-rules. Unlike in many games, here it actually works – to a certain extent. The number of rules increases to the extent that understanding them becomes laborious. Constant re-reading of the rules is something that should be taken for granted.  It actually becomes a part of the game or a metagame of sorts.

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During the night anything can happen. It is possible that one or more players become aware that they have changed sides, possibly multiple times. Or then they suspect it but are wrong instead. This makes the daytime a real challenge. It can be hard for the players to try to win as they try to become aware of their current team, the overall truth, same time lying to and confusing others while receiving the same treatment themselves.  In conclusion, One Night Vampire is an odd beast. The simple mechanics spin out of control through the sub-rules. Attitude towards the rule-browsing-metagame defines whether this is enjoyable. The movement goes back and forth as the players play against each other while figuring out the rules cooperatively. This can feel confusing for some while without irony it can be argued that discovering the complex rules together, even when on different sides, is the true social element of the game.

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Players: 3-10
Playing Time: 10 Min
Age: 8+
Designer:  Ted Alspach, Akihisa Okui
Artist: Gus Batts
Publisher: Bézier Games, Inc.