Beast Board Game Preview

Beast


WBG Score: 8.5/10

Player Count 2-4

You’ll like this if you like: Fury of Dracula, Letters from Whitechapel, Last Friday.

Published by: Studio Midhall

Designed by: Aron Midhall, Elon Midhall

Rule book here


This was a kickstarter preview copy. I did not have all of the final components or the double sided board that will come with the final copy. But I was able to play a full games on one map, with five different Beasts and many different combinations of six different hunters.*


At first glance, this game looks stunning. The art and theme are beautifully atmospheric. But we have all been let down by good looking bad games before right? Well, after playing the game multiple times, I can tell you now, the game stands up to the art. This is a truly absorbing game that will pull you into its clutches. Making you think about it between games, and want to play again, over and over. But for now, just look at that box art!

...OK, have I got you back? No? No problem. Have another stare. I will be here when you are ready...


Right, let's get to it. Beast is a stunning game. During your first experience with this, I would wager you will think this is a little too asymmetric. It feels unbalanced in favour of the hunters, and the rule book even suggests this may be the case. Not specifically in favour of one player, but that you may feel that you are falling behind in the game. It encourages you to stick with it if you fall behind early on. I found that my first two games saw quick and brutal victories for the hunters. But as we started to learn how to play the game with a little more stealth, and a lot more patience, the game evened up quickly.


But let's rewind quickly and talk about how this all began. Beast has been made by first time designers Aron and Elon Midhall. How do people making their first game make one this good!? The game successfully funded on Kickstarter during 2021 and is currently available for pre-orders from the backerkit page here.

In Beast, you are playing either as the Beast or the hunters. The Beast and the Hunters live in the same land, and due to reasons all to familiar with us all from real-life, they just can't seem to get along! Sadly, this means the hunters can only win if they weaken the Beats so much that the game gets to Night four, or they destroy the Beast entirely. The Beast however just wants to feed, although sadly, this takes the form of the Farmers and Nobles that have settled on its lands. If the Beast can take three of these settlers out before the forth night then the Beast will win. This sounds gruesome, but for some reason, it just doesn't feel like that in the game. I suppose as all you are actually doing is moving meeples from the board or adding heart damage tokens to a player board. *There is a second board and other missions and different victory conditions but I have not been able to try these with the prototype copy I have.


Before you begin, players must decide who will play as the Beast and who will play as the Hunters. Provided with this copy were five Beasts and six different hunters. They all have their own different special powers and unique ways of using the action cards. You can play this game in a two player with one player controlling two hunters, but it works best in a three with two players controlling one hunter each and one playing as the Beast. The only variation between a two, three, and four player game is the drafting round, and for a four player game, how big the map is and how many Hunters there are. In a four player game the entire map is used, for a two or three player game the south east area is off limits to keep things tight.


Players must sit around the table according to their role. In the picture above you can see the perspective from the Hunters viewpoint. The text on the board relevant to the hunters is the right way up and the item cards available to you are facing you. The Beast must sit on the opposite side to see their text, but more importantly, keep the players apart. This is a hidden movement game after all. Here is the view from the Beasts' perspective.

Drafting Phase.


The rules of the game are conveniently placed on the edges of the board and begin at Dawn with a drafting phase. Here, both hunters and the Beast will take cards and pass the others along, readying themselves for the day ahead. The cards work for both hunter and Beast with a simple top and bottom action. The top is for the hunters, the bottom is for the Beast. Players will be looking to take what they need whilst not giving away things their think their opponent might be after. Players will then add these drafted cards into their own specific player deck shown by the art of the back and to any Beastly Talents or Items them have unused from the previous rounds.


The cards show either a red or blue circle action. On your turn in the day phase, you can play up to one red card and up to one blue card.

Day Phase.


Starting with the Beast, players will now take turns to play one or two cards to move around the board, search, hunt, attacks animals, hunters or other humans, or other specific actions such as for the Beast, deploying their summons. Each Beast has a unique summons. A secondary creature the Beast can call upon for help. The Bolgin for example, a giant frog like creature, can call upon three different Polyp's who once summoned, can move into neighboring areas and explode. In doing so they will give one damage to all creatures there and turn the area into a swamp, an area that favours the Bolgin.


Each area on the board is one of four different land types. Swamp, Forest, Cave, or Settlement. This is important as each Beast has a favored terrain in which it can carry out special attacks, and some cards only work in certain terrain. The hunters in return, can lay traps in each of the four areas of the board, north east, north west, south east and south west, and do so across one of the four types of terrain. They can do so, in the knowledge of what areas the Beast they are fighting will be stronger in and be more likely to move into.

The Beast starts the game in the central space on the map. It can then move two spaces, north, south, east, or west, hidden from the hunter players. The Beast does this by choosing two cards from a huge deck, and placing them face down on the board. This records their turn so it cannot be changed or forgotten, but keep secret. In the final version of the game there will also be a mini map that the Beast player can use to track their progress. This sounds very useful as I was often plotting my moves in my head as the Beast player and the Hunters were staring at my eyes and head direction as I did this!


The Beast also has the option to play a no movement card. This is a good way to fool the hunters as from their perspective, it looks like you moved. You have played a card just the same. But of course, the Beast simply hid into the background. Waiting to pounce.


The Beast will only ever reveal itself when it attacks or is found by the hunters from a successful hunt action. But the Beast will give away clues throughout the game as to its whereabouts. Firstly, and the main way this happens is whenever any hunter moves onto a location that was a space in which the Beast recently moved through. When this happens, the Beast must place a footprint token on that space to let the hunter know they found live tracks.

The other way a Beast's location can be revealed it when it attacks, as the Beast leaves evidence of its presence either with an injured person or animal, or the complete removal of its prey. This is done either by adding a wound marker to the animal, hunter or human character it attacked and moving the Beasts marker to this space. Or, by removing the prey altogether if the attack was fatal. Each attack played in the game by all players, hunter and Beast, delivers just one damage. But players can upgrade their characters and powers to start to increase this in later days.


The Beast can giveaway clues as to its location in other ways. If the Beast plays a card which can only be carried out on a certain terrain, then of course, the hunters will gain information from this. When the Beast adds a summons to the board, this must be done one or two spaces from where the Beast is. This again gives clues as to where the Beast may be. Some cards allow for multiple actions to be done and in any order the Beast likes. Move and Summons, Attack and Move etc. The hunters will not know which order these events took place. So, there is some mystery here. But as the Beast, you need to move with stealth and patience to avoid becoming an easy kill yourself. If you ever end your turn as the Beast with your location known, then you will become easy quarry for the hunters. Attacking and moving in the same turn, in that order, is key to the Beast's success.

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