Right, when I received Dead & Breakfast I had hoped that the game would be based around food, however It turns out, instead, that the title is a pun on bed and breakfast. This game instead has you creating haunted hotels for you to lure and terrify guests.
Dead & Breakfast was not a disappointment, despite me hoping the game had more to do with food. This tile placement game has you trying to assemble a hotel full of creatures and flowery vines to get the most points. Each player gets a different colored door, which is the bottom center of their five-by-five grid that will make up their hotel.
In a circle in the middle of the table, you’ll see six rectangular tiles with a little ghost topper sitting on one of them. This ghost topper is a pretty interesting aspect of the game as it dictates the tiles out of the circle that a player can choose. The three next tiles in the circle, from where the ghost is facing, are the tiles that can be picked up on a player’s turn. Once a tile is picked from the circle, the ghost moves to the new tile placed down, clockwise, facing the three after it. This means that picking tiles so that other players cannot pick specific tiles can be a way to play the game.
Rectangle tiles each have windows which must be facing the correct way when put into your haunted house, and they also feature vines, which are a clever way of managing scoring. Going from the vines on your door, these vines need to connect in order for you to score points for attached (correctly coloured) flowers. Each doorway has two different flowers that you can gain points from, so grabbing tiles with these flowers and connecting them will give you a better chance of having the best haunted bed and breakfast.
On top of this circle of rectangle tiles, there are four guest tiles revealed at once. Guest tiles contain a person who wants to stay at your hotel! Once you have a row of your hotel filled in, all the way across, you can pick up a single guest. This guest then needs to immediately be put into your hotel, on top of an existing tile within your grid. Guest tiles each feature a fear and directional arrows The arrows show which direction they look for the things which they are scared of — vertically or horizontally — meaning that you will get points if you have creatures that they fear in that row.
There are also vine tiles, with vines sticking out of all of the sides of a single square tile. On your turn, instead of taking a rectangle tile, you can take two vine tiles to place anywhere on your grid (as long as they are connecting to pre-existing tiles within your house, that is.)
There you have it — grab a tile, place it on your grid and look to score points. The game itself is pretty simple once you completely understand what each of the tiles do. Adding guests becomes a very strategic play, as you can use them to get rid of windows that don’t help you out, fix broken vines or to get the most points on the types of monsters around. As each player can only take one rectangle or two vine tiles which they must place as soon as they have them, everyone’s bed and breakfast is finished in the same round.
Dead & Breakfast includes some bonus tiles, which gives players more points for various things like having a floor with all four flower colors on it or an extra point for each window that’s connected via vines to the lobby door. We didn’t actually play with these bonuses ourselves, as counting up points is already quite intense with the number of ways to score in the base game. Counting connecting flowers, then each creature that a guest is afraid of that is in the right row will already take some time.
There was an attempt to help this as the inside of the box lid actually features a counter. Each colored door has a wooden token that can be placed on this ridge to help keep track. The only issue is that the counter goes to twenty-five, then requiring you to flip the token over to the plus side to continue counting — all of us scored much higher than twenty-five without the bonuses. So we opted to just tally them up on our phones. The box itself doesn’t seem to benefit from this ridge and it instead makes everything cramped. This might just be my issue, but the tiles fit extremely snug within the box, meaning that stacking them in is a challenge as there really isn’t room for anything else. Personally, I wish this ridge was removed so that the tiles could fit back into the box easily.
The game itself, which is just tiles, a ghost token and these counter tokens, are all well made with very nice visuals. The different monsters and guests are all in a really nice cartoon style that we all enjoyed. The flowers did seem somewhat confusing, especially as there is an orange and yellow flower, and a different orange and light orange flower, which are easy to mix up when scoring, but overall everything is great to look at. I enjoyed the fact that everyone’s hotel was finished at the same time and did like seeing how they all came together.
Dead & Breakfast is a really solid tile placement game with some very cute themeing. I enjoyed my time with the game even despite there not being any breakfasts, and I will probably take it out again around Halloween!
You can purchase Dead & Breakfast right now on their website.