It’s Time For A Witch Hunt
Welcome to Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, the height of the historic witch hunts of the time. In this game players will either be attempting to find and purge the town of Salem of witches, or trying to eliminate the townsfolk and escape as a witch. Salem 1692 plays with 4-12 players and can last between 20-40 minutes. Each player will be handed five Tryal cards and depending on how many players are in the game, one or two of those cards will declare who will start the game as the witch or witches. The other Tryal cards will show ‘not a witch’ apart from one other, which will be the Constable card. Players with a witch card will be trying to eliminate all of the other players while the non-witch players will be trying to determine who the witch or witches are and eliminating them. The constable will be working to protect the townsfolk, being able to save a player during the night time sequence.
Each player at the start of Salem 1692 will choose a character from witch trial history to play as. There are fifteen different characters to pick from, each having their own special ability that can be employed by the players whenever the opportunity presents itself. The key to Salem 1692 is the hidden role mechanic that drives its gameplay. Each player must keep their identity secret from the others, so even though everyone will know there’s at least one witch present at the start of the game they will have no idea who it is! Players will force others to reveal and discard Tryal cards through playing accusation cards, and once a player has turned over all of their Tryal cards they are eliminated from the game. If a witch card is revealed then the townsfolk have discovered the identity of a witch and that player is eliminated. Once all the witch cards have been revealed then the witch players have lost; alternatively if the witches can eliminate all of their opponents before they are revealed then they are the winners! The non-witch players however must be careful not to accidentally target fellow townsfolk or they could be helping the witches succeed, and the witches must be careful not to play too aggressively when playing accusation cards against other players or it will quickly become apparent who the witches are.
Conspiracy And Night Time
Each player gets a chance to play cards from their hand in a clockwise fashion hoping to hide their identity or flush out the witches. Cards can vary from simple accusation cards used to reveal Tryal cards or other cards such as arson which will force a player to discard their hand or more protective cards such as piety which prevents players from playing accusation cards on another player. When the Conspiracy card is drawn however, each player takes it in turn picking a Tryal card from the player on their left and placing it in front of them, ensuring that everyone will end up with a new Tryal card by the end of the conspiracy phase. What this could mean is that there are now more witches in the game, increasing the chance of a witch victory, and also a different player could become the constable meaning that all constable duties will now pass to that player. After all Tryal cards have been swapped, the game continues until the deck runs out, and then the night phase begins.
The night phase is the chance for the witches to shine. All players must close their eyes and then the witch or witches will open their eyes and choose a player in the game to ‘kill’ by playing a character’s kill card face-down and visible by all players. Then, after the witches have closed their eyes again, it’s the constable’s turn to choose a player to ‘save’ by putting the gavel token in front of them. Then all players will open their eyes and be given the chance to ‘confess’ – by doing this they will protect themselves from death but in doing so they must turn over one of their Tryal cards, bringing them closer to elimination. Once every player has confessed or decided not to, the players turn the kill card face-up and thereby reveal who the witches have attempted to kill! If the player who has been chosen to die by the witches has been protected by the constable or chose to confess then they will not be killed – otherwise the player reveals all of their Tryal cards and is eliminated from the game. This ends the night phase with play passing to the player next to the one who drew the night card.
Salem 1692 is in keeping with all the Facade Games – the faux book game box is fantastic, with the simple gold writing embossed on the front cover/lid revealing little about the game but is in keeping with the design of the game. The plastic hourglass provided and gavel token are useful and sturdy while the cards are of a basic stock but the artwork on them is simple yet consistent and well designed to suit the game. The rule book is slim but concise, giving you plenty of information including a brief history of each character in the game which really helps the players feel involved in the time period and them of Salem 1692.
Salem 1692 is part of a selection of games called Dark Cities, the idea being that each one focuses on a city and period of time and all come packaged in the beautifully designed faux book game box. This idea of the game being focused on the Salem witch trials of 1692 is so well done, providing an educational aspect within the rules by giving the players three pages of history that have no impact on the game itself but help the players immerse themselves even more into the game. Salem 1692 is as thematic as they come, from box design, rule book, art design and game play. The rulebook offers alternative rules too, allowing experienced players to have a more difficult game or simply extend the length of the game – if the townsfolk get lucky it’s possible to find the witch before even the first night phase which could end up with people having a frustrating time unless they set up another playthrough.
One thing that must always be kept in mind while playing Salem 1692 is that it’s a hidden role game that relies on every player buying into the mechanic – no one should give away their role as witch or non-witch other than through card play or other actions within the game. Also players must be careful not to make a noise during the eyes-closed sections of the game. In fact the game recommends that someone plays as a moderator to allow the conspiracy and night time phases to run smoother. Salem 1692relies on communication being kept to a minimum to risk players accidentally letting their identity slip and the townsfolk are better off playing a cautious game until they have an idea who the witch is to avoid killing off their allies. Overall though Salem 1692 is a fun and immersive hidden role game that plays so quick and easy that you could easily fit more than one playthrough into a gaming session.