Some tabletop games come in big boxes, boasting large boards, meeples and loads of tiny components for you to play with. Others come in smaller packages, allowing for more portability, but still delivering on a big scale. The Blessed Dark is a small, cultist themed game that comes in a tiny mint tin, perfect for you to take around with you.
The Blessed Dark is a two to four player game based on the concept of Yahtzee. Rather than Yahtzee’s normal playstyle you’ll be gathering blood, casting spells and summoning demons. Each mint tin comes with twenty blood tokens (red blocks), three dice and a tiny deck of thirty-two cards. Your goal as a cultist is to have the most favor of The Ancient Ones when the last spell card is drawn from the deck.
Set up is pretty simple; remove The Dark One card from the deck and place it faced-up in the middle of the table, then all of the other cards are shuffled and placed face down on the table. Each player is then given three spell cards and two blood tokens to start. Players automatically move one of these cards to their grimoire in front of them, and that’s all there is to setting up. Gameplay is pretty simple as well.
During your turn you have a selection of different actions you can take, but you can only select one per turn. You can either draw a spell card to add to your hand, draw two blood tokens (if there are blood tokens in the pool), add a spell card to your Grimoire in front of yourself by playing a card from your hand, refresh all of your exhausted spells, or attempt to conduct a ritual.
Conducting rituals is the main gameplay in the game. Once you have some spells placed in your Grimoire you can start casting spells. This is done by rolling the three ritual dice and seeing if the results match any of your face-up spell cards. If you don’t get the results you need then you can choose to reroll any, or all, of the dice twice per ritual attempt, meaning you have three chances to get the results you want. There is still a chance to change the results beyond these three dice rolls too, as you can also spend one blood token to move a die up or down by one in value. If you get the results you want then you play the spell as long as you meet the other requirements. Some spells, specifically the more powerful or summoning ones, require you to spend blood.
There are various types of spells, some being exhausted at the end, some being single use and others being demons to summon. Demons are special in their rules as they remain exhausted (sideways) for the rest of the game unless they are banished from the game. They are no longer considered spells once they are summoned. Demons are a big favor earner at the end of the game.
When playing The Blessed Dark, I really enjoyed the theming and casting of spells. I felt that the blood pool was a good idea, as players couldn’t just keep summoning demons because they needed blood. I also found that turns were fast due to only being able to perform one action, so everyone was on their toes when it came to their own turn. Our group did however have some issues with a Hex Card. The Hex spell card allows a player who rolls a five and a two, and then pays two blood, to remove someone else’s spell card and place it into the discard pile.
Once the Hex Card was activated by a player, they then spent the rest of the game refreshing this card after each use and making sure to use it so that no one else could really play other spells. To some, this felt very overpowered, especially as it was used to eliminate the only other Hex Card from the deck.
We also had issues with the end game mechanic being to run out of spell cards to draw from. Once this card is picked up, the player who grabbed it can immediately add it to their Grimoire, but no further actions can be done. Then, it’s just counting up favor points for each spell in your Grimoire, then adding the value of each demon you have successfully summoned and then subtracting two favor points for any unsummoned demons in your Grimoire. Waiting until the deck ends is a bit of a weird one, as it becomes a game of decision-making and trying to see if anyone has more points than you. Some players in our group felt that getting to a specific set of points would allow more cards to be used, instead of just quickly being discarded to get to the end when you have more points.
The game itself did feel pretty great to play and I do love the container it came in. Being cultists who cast spells and summon demons to impress evil forces is a great setting, and the fact that it all comes in such a small package is wonderful. I am super impressed by the amount of stuff that fits into this tin — tokens and tiny cards? It’s pretty great.
The Blessed Dark is a very nice tiny game that’s currently being funded on Kickstarter.