When you’ve played a game seven times and not won once, for some that might be discouraging. But when you’re playing a game like The Bloody Inn, a game that has beautiful artwork, multiple paths to victory, and a dark yet hilarious theme, there’s always a reason to play it again…even when you lose…a lot.
Something I enjoy about TBI is its theme. You are the owner of a struggling inn and have decided to do whatever it takes to keep your business alive, even if that means killing your guests and bribing others to help you hide the bodies. This is truly unique to TBI, and it usually makes or breaks the game for most people. I get that. But don’t take it too seriously. It’s really more silly than it is sadistic. And the gameplay is so good that it’s worth overlooking some of the dark stuff.
First, let me give a brief description of how the game plays. Each turn, a player has a number of options. They can recruit two peasants for free or bribe one guest of the inn, each with his or her own unique ability that can provide immediate, ongoing, or end-game effects once built as an annex. Players can launder cash in exchange for checks, since the cash track tops out at 40.
However, the main goal of the player is to kill visitors and bury them underneath annexes, which are built using the guests bribed earlier in play. The player with the most currency at the end of the game, including checks and cash, is the winner. But winning is not easy, as the game incorporates dense strategy that is not apparent at first glance.
If I could give the gameplay 11/10 I would, because I enjoy it that much.
Since each turn involves two selections per player, a player is in the final selection seat may not be able to afford to recruit a guest, because the cost is too high or because other players selected the remaining peasant cards.
Every card that’s turned into an annex has a unique ability that benefits the player. Understanding how particular annexes will give you the most points in the short- or long-term is an important element of strategy. Even more important is knowing how long it will take to kill a guest and bury him under an annex.
Players spend cards to recruit, kill and bury. It costs 3 cards, in other words, to recruit a level 3 guest. It then costs an additional 3 cards to turn that guest into an annex, or to kill that guest, and another 3 cards to bury the body.
A player needs to be able to think sometimes 3 or 4 turns ahead in order to plan how to build an annex, kill a guest, and bury a body. This is arguably the most difficult portion of the game, and because of this, the player with the best planning ability is also usually the winner.
The Bloody Inn is a small game that proves big things do tend to come in small packages. It’s downright cerebral and can be difficult to play effectively, but it’s a wonderfully silly and well designed boardgame that keeps players coming back for more, hoping to find a better way to play the game each time they do. And for those who are less concerned with competition, it’s a chance to play a fun game with your friends as you laugh at its absurdity.