If you love the social, murder mystery, “who-dun-it” type party games, Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow is as good as it gets. You get the best of both worlds: the fun and intrigue of a “Mafia-esque” game with the haunting theme of a village under attack by a crafty band of werewolves.
Preface: this review comes after playing several evenings with a group of highly competitive adults. Skull King can be played on a much lighter scale with younger players on a “play to have fun” instead of “play to kill” basis. =-)
Skull King is so simple in construct: bid on how many tricks you plan to take each round; the closer you are, the more points you receive. Yet the nuances are many. In a nutshell, players have a number of cards in their hand that correspond to the round number (5 cards in round 5, 8 in round 8, etc.). Over 10 rounds, players bid on how many tricks they will take on each round. The starting card is the lead color and must be played by following players. If a player doesn’t have a lead color, she may “sluff off” with a different color or trump it with a black flag card. At any point, a player may play an escape card to get the heck out of there, a pirate card to trump all trumps, or the Skull King card to trump everything. There’s even a pirate who can play as a pirate or as an escape (a very valuable card to have!).
Stowaway 52 sure brought me back to my early reading days when I would load up at the library on this particular choose-your-own-adventure series of books! For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of it (let me know if you were into any of these in the early 90s!).
Essentially, you take turns adding fish to the “pot.” Once you add a fish, you then have the option of declaring a purchase of all fish in the set. One component I love about the game is the chance to affect other players’ purchases. When a player declares he/she will purchase the set of fish on the table, all other players may then play cards to affect the fish in the set or the cost of the set or both! Want to be a jerk and double the cost? Do it. Want to trash the fish the purchaser wants the very most? You got it. Want to halve the cost and get a coin in return? Sure thing. In my view, the swap-one-fish-for-one-of-your-fish is the most valuable card in the deck!