Horror films are a one of a kind genre. They’ve had an insane impact on cinema since the silent era and have been influencing pop culture for over a century. While horror creators still try to innovate, plenty of movies keep going back to classic tropes which many fans of the genre simply adore.
And what about board games? Horror might not be the number 1 genre choice for designers but there’s enough titles to satisfy the fans of zombie flicks, cthulhu mythos and aliens.
Slaughterville II, the game we want to tell you about today, approaches horrors from a slightly different angle. Instead of giving you one setting or villain to be scared by, it celebrates dozens of tropes and classic monstrosities. The game is a stand alone title, but can also work as an expansion to the 2015’s Slaughterville.
Welcome to Slaughterville
Slaughterville, where the action of the game takes place, is a small town in the middle of nowhere. It wouldn’t be any special if it wasn’t for one small fact. It has a mysterious power to lure the most vile and disturbing creatures into its vicinity. The paranormal events, that are scarce anywhere else, bloom in Slaughterville. Meeting a vampire or a werewolf during your evening jogging is not that rare here.
And yet a group of teenagers picks Slaughterville for their vacation spot. Is it the catchy name of the town or maybe some unknown powers that brought them into this godforsaken place? We’ll never know.
While they’re unpacking in their little, wooden cabins, the powers that could twist one’s mind are already preparing for a feast. Soon, young tourists will forget about hiking or sunbathing and worry about one thing only. Survival.
Exploring the City of Horrors
Slaughterville II is a cooperative card game for 1 to 6 players. If you played the original, you quite likely remember how the game flows, but let’s do a little refresher while explaining it to all the new players.
Everyone chooses a single character and then players can decide on a villain they want to tackle (or choose one randomly). Next you need to pick corresponding decks and place them on their own mats. Each villain has an unique deck.
Every game you’ll also have 6 locations at your disposal. They’re randomly chosen, but some villains might require using a specific one. Locations also have their own decks and mats so players need to pick the corresponding elements and place them on the table. You end up with character cards, a villain deck on his mat and 6 mats with location decks. The game is ready.
As for your characters, they all have their own unique skills and a bunch of stats. Each stat is important when conducting “tests” you find on cards discovered during your journey. To perform a test you’ll pick a number of D6 dice equal to a stat mentioned on the card and try to get at least one 5 or 6 when rolling them all. Perception tests for example can help in finding information while Agility allows you to escape the enemy and avoid combat.
Gameplay or How to Survive
The goal of Slaughterville II is to stay alive and complete your mission. Sometimes this may mean finding a certain number of Clue tokens or straight up defeating the evil mastermind. All ways to achieve victory are described on the Villain Starting Area mat, that hosts his entire deck.
The turn allows each player to perform 2 actions out of 3 available. Repeating 2 identical ones is also fine. So what can you do? First of all: move. This means walking from the Starting Area mat into any of 6 locations available. If one of them already has the villain pawn – you’ll have to fight him.
The second action available is trading. You can exchange all items, clues and allies you have with any other player standing on the same location as you.
The final action is called “encounter” and allows a player to turn over 1 card from the location deck. Encounters are the meat of the game and include tests, enemies to defeat and bits of narration to make the entire experience lively. It’s also the way to gain new clues and items to upgrade your character.
The villain also has his own turn and is controlled by whoever is the first player at the time. Villain attacks players and then a card from his deck is drawn. While these are often unpleasant for your team, depleting this entire stack of cards leads to your victory.
If you’re looking for more info about how Slaughterville plays, we suggest checking out the instruction manual linked on the campaign’s website (link below this article). For now: let’s move onto what’s new!
The New Slaughterville
So what does Slaughterville II have to offer? First of all: tons of new and compatible content that can enrich the previous game or work on its own. This means 5 entirely new villains including celebrities like Dracula or Cthulhu. 6 brand new locations like a Mall, a School or a Museum – each with a proper 24 card deck and a mat. 6 new characters will also join the cast, so if you’d like to experience horrors of Slaughterville from the point of a Chef or a Lawyer – now’s your chance.
Slaughterville II also includes a heavily rewritten instruction manual with some rule changes and much more clarity than the original one.
Next: there’s the Weather Deck – an optional addition that can be used with any of the villains. Weather cards contain various effects that affect the entire gameplay as long as they are in play. You can change them and draw a new weather card by letting go of 1 of your clues.
Insanity Mode is another new addition to Slaughterville II. Here: all enemies are more powerful, they die slower and get stronger when they lose their cards. They also have stronger heals.
There’s much more stuff coming to Slaughterville II: from new rules regarding dying to additional decks available through stretch goals. Should the game reach the first of these – the original Slaughterville will get a reprint, so everyone who’s missed up on it can enjoy both installments.
The Bottom Line
Slaughterville II feels like a love letter to the entire horror genre. The theme is easily where it shines the most. Darkish illustrations, well narrated story bits and lots of disturbing creatures that make for a really heavy atmosphere. With tons of tropes like typical horror characters and villains added into the mix, we feel like taking part in a proper horror movie. Every cliche you could expect is here and yet it can still shock you (or make you smile for recognizing the reference).
The gameplay isn’t too fast paced which lets you immerse even more. Despite that: rules are easy to grasp and they’re well explained, so you can read the manual once and be ready to face all the challenges.
Finally: the replay value is high here. All character, villain and location combinations ensure you’ll get a different game each time you play.
If you’re looking for lighter, but theme heavy horror game, Slaughterville II is a great choice. Especially if you mix it with its predecessor’s components. Want to see it for yourself? Check out the Kickstarter campaign linked below: