A Heck of a Whodunnit: Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow

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Written by: John Allis

The small village of Miller’s Hollow has a problem. A big problem. A werewolf problem. Every morning the townsfolk awake to find some new havoc has been wrought in the night, someone else dead. It’s time to talk a stand.

The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow is a strategy game, a problem-solving game, and a bluffing game. Although each round is different, they all adhere some of the same cycles and the same loose narrative:

By the random handing-out of cards, each player is assigned a role. Some will be typical villagers, others will be werewolves, others will have special powers, abilities or insights (the Witch, the Hunter, the Little Girl, the Sheriff, just to name a few). For the most part, players don’t know who is who or who to trust. It’s a big exercise in deduction.

In the nighttime phase of the game the werewolves secretly conspire to kill a villager. The dead villager is out, stuck in the peanut gallery to silently observe the rest of the affair.

In the daytime phase all players (including werewolves, of course) discuss the situation. Who suspects who of being a werewolf? Why? Players make their respective cases for not being fingered, describe the sources of their suspicions, note one another’s bluffs or tells or silences. At the end of the daytime phase the village votes on who will be ‘lynched’ for suspicion of being a werewolf. This player, too, will be out, and then his or her true identity revealed. Hopefully the villagers haven’t killed one of their own.

And then, again, it is night, and the werwolves come out to hunt.

The objective of the game is to have one’s own ilk (werewolf of villager) survive the other. So you win or lose as a team, a unit.

The best, the most interesting and most unique aspect of Miller’s Hollow is the psychological imperative of reading other players, a complex process of deduction and second-guessing. For this reason the game requires at least eight players, and can be played by as many as twenty-three. Very little is required for gameplay itself, just the unique deck of twenty-four beautifully designed cards.

The game is described as being intended for play by people ages ten and up. While older children and teens would have a great and challenging time playing Miller’s Hollow, it is certainly fit for adults as well. I was in my mid-twenties when I was first introduced to the game, and I continue several years later to play frequently. In fact, Miller’s Hollow gets better with experience, as one gets better and better at thinking the game through, learning and discovering new strategies.

At under ten dollars a deck, for all the fun and excitement of Miller’s Hollow, the game is an absolute steal. One of the best new card games I’ve discovered in years, even in spite of the large number of players the architecture of the game necessitates. I recommend it with enthusiasm.

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