Z-Man Games: Shadow Hunters – Review

July 3, 2011

Publisher Z-Man Games
Genre Board
Number of Players 4 to 8 (actual)/ 5 to 8 (recommended)
Play Time 30 minutes to 1 hour
Initial Review Date 7/3/11
Last Updated 2/4/16
Click Here to Play

Ok, so in shadow hunters there are 3 factions. You have Hunters, Shadows and Neutrals. The Hunters win by killing the Shadows the shadows win by killing the hunters (or 3 neutrals in the 7 player game) and each of the neutrals win by their own victory condition which is specified on the card.

That’s the basic premise of the game and it is a blast to play. Many times after introducing people to this game I’ve ended up playing it 3 to 4 times in a row. Pretty impressive for a game that can take 30 min. to an hr to play.

I think a big part of why so many people enjoy it is that the rules are fairly simple. I think another reason people enjoy it is because it is a confrontational team game. What I mean by that is that for the most part you will have 1 or more allies (depending on who you are and the number of players), but you also will have enemies that you need to eliminate (again depending on who you are).

Players who normally enjoy co-op type games will really get into it since they know that they have at least one friend in the game and you really do want to work together with your ally to kill off the opposition. Another aspect that I think attracts players is the ability to attack other players. In so many other games players wish they could some how directly attack their opponents just out of frustration. In this game since the objective is to kill your opponents, attacking other players is not only allowed but the main method of winning. Oddly enough the game doesn’t suffer from players feeling “picked on”. Because you have an ally in most cases, you have someone else in the game who very much wants to help you out.

Now, comes the last part that makes this game so much fun. Who you are is hidden!  That’s right, at the start of the game everyone is given a character at random and so you truly do not know who your enemies are. Your teammate from the last game might just be your enemy this time around.

So, how does the game work?

So in the game each player will roll a four-sided die along with a six-sided die and add the two together. The number you get will correspond to a location on the board. Each location allows you to do something different. There is no seven on the board, instead it acts like a “wild card” allowing you to go to the location of your choice. In this way if there is a location
you really want to activate it you have a greater chance of getting to do so.

The locations are as follows

Die Roll Result Location Name Action
2 & 3 Hermit’s Cabin You may draw a Hermit Card (Green Card)
4 & 5 Underworld Gate You may draw a card from the stack of your choice
6 Church You may draw a White Card
8 Cemetery You may draw a Black Card
9 Weird Woods You may either give 2 damage to ay player or heal 1 damage of any player
10 Erstwhile Alter You may steal an Equipment card from any player

As you can tell by the verbiage of these locations all of these actions are optional. In general it doesn’t harm you to do these things but there are certain circumstances when you may wish to decline.

After you perform the action (or decide not to) you then have the option of attacking another player. Again this is optional (generally) and so you are not required to do this. Of course you can only attack players who are either at the same location as you or are in the adjacent location. So, sometimes you might want to attack but the player you want to attack
is simply not in range.

As I said, players identities are hidden, so the main method of determining who someone is by using hermit cards. The way these work is you draw a card silently read what it says and then hand it face down to another player. This player must then do whatever the card says. These cards will basically say something like “I think you are a shadow, if so then take 1 damage”. The player will then either declare that the card affects them and take whatever the associated action is (in this case 1 damage) otherwise the player will declare that the card has no effect on them. In either case only the player who drew the card and the player who received the card knows what it said. In this way you can slowly start to figure out who
players are.

Overall, the game is a lot of fun. I highly recommend picking it up. The only downside to this game is that it is really only fun if you have 5 or more players. So, it may not be a good buy if you are not able to regularly get this many people together to play. Because it is a short game though you do not have to devote a large amount of time to it or make special
arrangements to play it.

While certainly it can be played in a party type environment this game does not feel like a “party-game” to me simply because of the amount of mental energy it requires. Particularly because one of the characters has the special ability to lie. this means that any information you get you have to take with a grain of salt. So, if you want a game that doesn’t
require much thinking this probably isn’t a good option. But if you want something fun and fast that requires some mental effort I highly recommend this game.

Part 1: Z-Man Games: Shadow Hunters – Review
Part 2: Z-Man Games: Shadow Hunters – Hints, Tips and Strategies
Part 3: Z-Man Games: Shadow Hunters (Expansion) – Strategy

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