As a brand-new board game maker, it can be extremely difficult for your project to get the reach and excitement it deserves. It can be even more difficult to get people on board (sorry) to try a whole new type of game altogether. Luckily, Crooked House doesn’t seem to have this problem and I’m so glad I got the chance to play POSSESSION: a daemonic card game.
POSSESSION is a dark-fantasy, turn-based card game that sees players take on the role of a daemon — of which you randomly select one — and are tasked to wreak havoc in the city of Ninebridges by possessing your victims and forcing them to do your dirty work. On top of this, you’re also at loggerheads with other daemons to be the best daemon in the land… it sounds more complicated than it actually is.
You might feel a little overwhelmed as you open the box, as the game packs a pretty hefty 44-paged rulebook, add to that the fact that there are easily over 100+ cards to look through it can appear pretty scary. After a little bit (a lot) of reading, and setting up the board, you’re ready to go.
The set up is fairly simple — separate all the types of cards you need for your particular game (you use different cards for different styles of play) and give them a shuffle. These will consist of the Game Deck, the Location Deck, the Victim Deck and finally, the Daemon cards. Place all the Daemon cards face down and each player selects one — this will be the Daemon they’re playing as for the game. Each Daemon has its own unique ability and starting possession value (possession value is what you need in order to control victims,) and your opponent doesn’t need to see what Daemon you are either, so you can use that to your advantage — depending on your ability.
Once all characters have chosen a Daemon card you must give the starting player the Narrator token. The player with the Narrator token draws the victim cards, draws a location card, gives out cards from the game deck and then flips the Time Coin in order to determine whether it is day or night, this is done at the beginning of each turn.
The number of victim cards drawn each turn depends on the number of players — so if you’re playing with two players, you would draw two victims and so on. The victim cards all have their own unique abilities and stats. These abilities and stats can be altered depending on your location and time of day. They have their own health, willpower and strength. Their willpower is what determines if they can be possessed or not – if you have a possession value of four and the victim as a willpower value of 5, you can’t possess it at that time. Be careful though, because if at any time during the game your possession value is lower than the total sum of the victims you are controlling, you will have to discard victim cards until that figure is corrected. For example, if your possession value totals eight – then you can’t have two victims with five willpower.
Each player draws eight cards from the game deck, these cards consist of cards that allow you to increase your possession value, cards that can make your controlled victims better or your opponent’s harder to control, event cards that can change a turn and finally, nemesis cards, that you can play in order to kill your opponent’s cards. It’s how you use these cards that are pretty much vital to you winning the game. So, use them well. At the end of each turn, you and your opponent’s will be made to fight any nemesis cards that are on the field – if the nemesis card has a higher attack value than that of the victim’s fighting, the victim takes a wound damage.
The turn ends when each player has played four cards; this is the interesting part. What happens to the remainder of your current hand? Usually, in most games, you would either discard the hand and redraw new cards or redraw up to the amount you had. Not in POSSESSION. In this game your current location card will tell you what you must do with your hand. In most cases your hand will go to another player; so, the card will say something along the lines of ’pass to the player on your right’.
The way in which you win the game is simple. At the end of the fifth turn, each player adds up the total of their victim’s strength and life value – the player with the highest number is the winner. So, it is vital to get as many victims as you can throughout the game whilst also trying to kill your opponents.
Okay, so onto the very few things I either didn’t like or could be changed. A pretty basic thing I would’ve liked is some kind of outline on the game board to place all your different decks and cards because as nice as the board is – it doesn’t offer much reason to be there other than to track your possession value. I also would have preferred each player to have a sort of ‘spinner’ which displays your possession value as the tokens you use on the board can easily get knocked off.
As interesting as the way the cards in each player’s hand works, with no way of redrawing cards or discarding for new cards it’s pretty hard to get past a bad hand. If you draw a hand with no possession cards at the start you’re already at a disadvantage. It also seems like a waste not to use the majority of the game deck (of which there are a lot of cards).
My final ‘issue’ I noticed when playing is the game definitely works better the more people you play with. When I was playing a two-player game I noticed you couldn’t mix up the gameplay very well – any
event cards that came up would state things like ‘such and such effect to the player on your left’ meaning it was always the other player. Also, if we both had rubbish hands, we would just be swapping
with each other for another rubbish hand.
All in all, I really enjoyed my time with POSSESSION: A Daemonic Card Game. It’s an interesting take on a card game that I’ve not seen before. The artwork on the cards is really nice (although they can look a
little samey) and a hell of a lot of detail has gone into creating the game itself, and it shows. There are a number of ways to play too which is nice – you can play single player (though I didn’t get a chance to try out this way of playing) and there are also various campaigns you can play through which offer a little bit of story and progression. I recommend playing the campaigns through with the full four players though as they can get pretty difficult.
You can purchase POSSESSION: A Daemonic Card Game on the developer’s website.