I feel like I have to start this review with a disclaimer. I do not like horror films. At all. I find them to be a waste of time for me because I don’t usually find them scary. It’s like going to see a comedy show that doesn’t make you laugh. I also didn’t used to like the idea of solo only games. Board gaming is a hobby I got into because of the people I play with. “Why would I go through the bother of setting up a board game to play along?” I used to think. “Wouldn’t I just play a video game?” When the pandemic hit, I ended up spending a lot more time with my board games but not having anyone to play with. So I’d try the solo mode, or play two handed if it was something like a co-op and it scratched a certain itch, but it didn’t lead me to playing or scouting out solo only games. Fast forward three years and the rise in popularity of a solo game had me intrigued. I’d watched some playthroughs and I thought I might as well give it a go. Final Girl was the game I settled on, mostly because of the diverse cast of characters to play with and against and because I’d seen it streamed a bunch.
So I sat down to play my first game of Final Girl and I used this set – Slaughter in the Groves. And… oh boy. I was hooked… before I get into that more, let’s talk about how this expansion works.
The Cast and Crew
The Final Girls: Adelaide & Barbara
In Slaughter at the Grove, Adelaide is a very flexible character. Instead of having a passive ability, her power is a one off bonus, either decreasing Wrath (more on that later), recovering all health or taking up to 6 cost of Action cards into your hand. This ability triggers after saving five Victims, and any other saved Victims reduces the Terror level.
Barbara is an inspirational leader, boosting the morale of the Victims and encouraging them to rise up against the Killer. When her ability is triggered, she can bring Victims with her into the space with the Killer. When she does at least one damage, she can inflict one more damage for each Victim in the Killer’s space. However, doing so kills the Victims but these deaths do not raise the Bloodlust track. She has seven health and her ability activates after saving five Victims. Additional Victims provide Barbara with more time.
The Killer: Inkanyamba
Inkanyamba the Avenger has taken on the name of a legendary monster and is a creature of pure wrath. This is represented by a new feature of a Killer Wrath track. You will add the Killer Wrath track to the playing area and set a Tracking marker on level 2 and you’ll also need to add the two Atonement Action cards to the Action Tableau. At various points in the game, you will increase or decrease Wrath as instructed. When you are asked to Unleash Killer Wrath, indicated by a red lightning bolt, you check the level on the Killer Wrath track and follow the effects listed there. This are always bad for you, increasing Terror, Inkanyamba’s health, dealing additional damage, or just increasing the Killer Wrath.
The Location: The Sacred Groves
In Slaughter in the Groves, The gods are angry at the invasion and desecration of their sacred lands by tourists, leading to their making a pact with the Killer, using them to cleanse the Groves. Whilst attempting to survive the Killer, you will also need to deal with the Divine Wrath of the gods, represented by yellow lightning bolts on the Divine Wrath card. In addition, you will have to add the Sacred Groves Bloodlust track and keep the Sacred Groves Finale token to hand in case you do trigger the Finale.
Like with Inkanyamba, you will need to move up and down the Divine Wrath at various points, and trigger the effects there when instructed to Unleash Divine Wrath. Because of the influence of the gods, whenever the Bloodlust track increases, you will need to also trigger any effects on the Sacred Groves Bloodlust track, which are one-off instant effects. When the Finale is triggered, you’ll need to add on the Sacred Groves Finale token to the Finale card, triggering it at the Killer phase.
Finally, some of the spaces are listed as Sacred Spaces and these will impact some Terror cards and the Sacred Groves Bloodlust track, depending on the number of Victims in them.
As I said, Slaughter in the Groves was the first Final Girl set I played and it is one of my favourites. The wonderful combination of the gods rising up to deal with the idiot tourists and a brutal Killer got me hooked to the series immediately. The two Final Girls included in the game are incredibly interesting to play with, with the split decision to be made for Adelaide and the force of will to inspire the victims with Barbara. There’s no particular horror film associated with this box, but perhaps that’s what I love about it so much. With my aversion towards horror movies, this feels more like it was inspired by a tribal story, passed down by the oral tradition. “Desecrate the lands and the gods will be angry” is an excellent story for this game and I think it works so well.
The Wrath mechanism is very interesting to use, because it gives you something else to balance. The only issue I can foresee with mixing this set with another is the Atonement action card, the main way to decrease Wrath is linked to Inkanyamba, not the Sacred Groves. The set up for the Sacred Groves does say to include the Atonement cards so as long as you don’t forget to add it in, you should be fine. It can be overwhelming to have both Wrath tracks on the first play, so I would suggest maybe mixing up sets on the first play.
Inkanyamba himself is a BRUTAL Killer, one of the fastest to get around the board, and constantly pressuring you to either clear Victims or get the heck out of his way because he will hit hard. His Terror cards focus on his Wrath and if you don’t either deal with him fast, or put that Wrath back down, you will struggle.
I really love Slaughter in the Groves, I think it’s my favourite, if not, certainly top 3. It’s a really interesting Killer and Location combination that gives just a little extra regardless of if you keep them together or split them up. It is brutal though, so if you want a slightly easier entry, maybe come back to the Sacred Groves.