greatgamegate (greatgamegate) wrote,

133. Hidden Identity Series - Shadow Hunters

 Next up, a series based on a mechanic.  Specifically, this is where players have some sort of hidden identity.  This is where you have a character, and you know all about your character, but no one else does.  I've covered games that utilize this mechanic before - Krakow 1325 AD, Mr. Jack, and Werewolf spring to mind.  There are different variations on the theme, but we're going to start with a game where the hidden identity mechanic is very apparent - Shadow Hunters.

(image taken from

Shadow Hunters came out in 2005, designed by Yasutaka Ikeda.  Art was done by Gou Ikeda, Hiroyuki Imahori, Hisashi Sawada, Hitoshi Nishio, Kei Kurosaki, Naoki Fukuda, and Yosuke Yamaguchi.  The game is for 4-8 players (but trust me, you want more than 4).  The English version is published by ZMan Games.  In the game, you will either  be a Shadow character, attempting to kill all of the Hunters; or a Hunter, trying to kill all the Shadows; or a Neutral character with your own unique win condition.

(BGG image by user drakecoldwinter)

There's not a ton of stuff included in the game.  There's a board, which is largely redundant.  Much like Cribbage, the board is there for convenience rather than necessity.  It's simply a way to keep track of everyone's hit points and a place for the area cards.  Speaking of which, there are 6 area cards, as well as 10 identity cards, 16 hermit cards, 16 white cards, and 16 black cards.  There are 16 wooden cylinders and 8 colored playing mats, and two dice - a d4 and a d6.

(BGG images by users Rainforhar and lmagrum2)

To set up, randomly deal the six area cards to the card spaces on the board.  There will be two in each rectangle, and these cards are in range of each other.  This will be important when thinking about attacks.  The white, black, and green (Hermit) cards should be sorted and placed in their appropriate spots (face down) on the right side of the board.  Discards will be on the left, also face down.  Each player chooses a color and takes a mat.  One of their cylinders go on the "no damage" space, and the other should go on the symbol in the center of the board.

(BGG images by user Rainforhar)

Each player will receive one secret character.  There are three types of characters - Shadow, Hunter, and Neutral.  Before passing them out, you should make sure you have the right distribution.  For 4-7 players, you should randomly select two Shadows and two Hunters to include, but don't peek at what they are.  With 8 players, you'll use all three of each.  You should also add a number of Neutrals depending on the number of players - 0 with 4, 1 with 5, 2 with 6, 3 with 7, and 2 with 8.  With 7 or 8 players, you won't be using Bob.

Each character card gives several pieces of information: the name, character type, HP (hit points), win condition, and special ability that can be used once you reveal yourself.  Each character has a different first initial, which will help you identify them on the board.  Here's a summary of the characters:

Allie8Must survive for the whole gameCan fully heal as long as you're still alive (1x per game)
Bob10Must collect 5 equipment cardsCan steal an equipment card if you inflict 2 or more points of damage during an attack
Charles11Must kill someone after at least two others have diedAfter attacking a character, you can attack them again if you take two damage
Daniel13Must be the first to die, or must outlast the ShadowsYou must reveal yourself when another character dies.  This is the only time you can reveal.

Emi10All the Shadows are deadWhen you move, you can roll normally or move to an adjacent card without rolling
Franklin12All the Shadows are deadAt the start of your turn, choose a character and give them damage equal to the roll of the d6 (1x per game)
George14All the Shadows are deadAt the start of your turn, choose a character and give them damage equal to the roll of the d4 (1x per game)

Unknown11All the Hunters are dead (or 3 Neutrals)You can lie about your identity when given a Hermit card.  You don't have to reveal for this.
Vampire13All the Hunters are dead (or 3 Neutrals)When you attack and give damage, you heal two points of your own damage.
Werewolf14All the Hunters are dead (or 3 Neutrals)When you are attacked, you may immediately counterattack (as long as you aren't dead).

Identities are kept secret, face down on your mat.

(BGG image by user silvanus321)

On your turn, roll the dice.  Add the numbers, then move your token to the appropriate card.  If you are already on the card, you must reroll.  If you roll a 7, you can move to any card (not the one you're currently on).  Once on your card, you take the action listed on the card:

  • 2-3: Hermit's Cabin - Draw a Hermit card.
  • 4-5: Underworld Gate - Draw a card of your choice.
  • 6: Church - Draw a white card.
  • 8: Cemetery - Draw a black card.
  • 9: Weird Woods - Either give any player 2 damage or heal one damage of any player.
  • 10: Erstwhile Altar - Steal an equipment card from another player.

(BGG images by users silvanus321 and Agape)

There are two types of black and white cards - equipment and single-use.  If it's an equipment card, you can choose to keep it by playing it face up in front of you, or you can discard it.  Single-use cards must be played immediately unless they don't apply to you.  White cards tend to give more passive advantages, while black cards tend to be meaner and can be bad for both the player and the victim.

Hermit cards form the main base of the game.  You don't know who everyone is, so you need to figure it out so you're not attacking people that are on your team.  Hermit cards help you get information.  When you draw a Hermit card, look at it, then give it to another player.  The card will say something like "I bet you're a Shadow.  If so, you receive 1 damage!"  The receiver looks at the card, then either follows the instruction or says, "Nothing happens."  Only the two of you know what happened.  In the case of our example, if the player takes one damage, you know they're a Shadow.  If they say nothing happens, you know they're not...unless they're Unknown, in which case they might be lying.

(BGG image by user lmagrum2)

After taking your action, you can choose to attack someone in your attack range - i.e. within one of the rectangles on the board.  Even this action can tell you something about others.  If a player keeps attacking willy nilly, they might be a character who wants everyone dead, or that wants to be killed quickly.  If they keep attacking one person, you might be able to guess that they are on opposite teams.

Attacks work like this: roll the dice, subtract the smaller number from the larger, and give your victiim that amount of damage.  If they're the same, no damage is given.

(BGG images by users Grimwold and Fat Tony)

And so it goes.  If a player reaches their HP limit (as notated on the board) they must immediately reveal and are out of the game.  You may reveal your identity at any point in the game to take advantage of your special ability.  Once any player has fulfilled their win condition, the game is over and all players who have their conditions met win.  Read more at BGG, and expect to pay $30 in an FLGS.  See you next time, and happy gaming!
Tags: 2005, hidden identity series, yasutaka ikeda

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