Do you like money? Would you kill for it? Would you plot against your family members in order to win at all costs? If the answer to all of these are a resounding yes, then The Bloody Inn is for you.
France 1831. In a remote corner of Ardeche, the small village of Peyrebeille sees numerous travellers pass through each season. A family of four greedy farmers are determined to make their fortune and have devised a diabolical stratagem to achieve this goal. Invest in an inn so they can rob the travelling guests. Simple. But things take a turn for the worse as the family realises that a little murder could make you so much more. As they say, a dead guest is a quiet guest. Can the family outwit each other and avoid the suspicions of the police? Who knows! But one thing is for sure, it’s going to get bloody…
The Bloody Inn is played over a series of rounds where each player gets two actions. Each player takes an action and then it is repeated until all players have taken the two actions. The actions that can be made include: bribing people, building annexes, killing guests, laundering money or burying victims (if you can find a suitable location). All this is done with the goal of stealing the most money from the victims and not getting screwed over by your other family members. However players must be careful, as the police could show up at anytime and any unburied bodies will cost you precious money to depose of. After the draw deck has been emptied twice (representing the summer season and the winter season) the family member with the most Francs is the winner.
The main mechanic of The Bloody Inn is deck building but in another way it isn’t. You need cards to help you murder and bribe your way to glory but you also have to pay wages at the end of each round and the wages are determined by the number of cards in your hand. It’s an interesting balancing act that brings in some really strategic planning once you get used to the game mechanics.
What’s in the Box?
Cards! 83 of them to be precise. There are 66 game tiles, 4 player tokens and of course the game board.
The artwork on the cards is outstanding and fully conveys the dark and grim subject matter of the game. Each card is colourfully illustrated with a picture of the guest, and also contains all the relevant game information such as how many Francs the guest is holding, the rank of the guest (0 to 3) and what annexes they can build.
In addition to the cards, the central game board acts as the inn with 8 rooms on it for the travellers and it also tracks the money gained for each of the players. The game also includes a variety of cardboard tiles that track extra money (more on that later) and other game effects such as which family member owns the room and what rooms have room service.
The box is sturdy and also features some wonderful artwork. Everything packs away nicely and this will definitely look good on your gaming shelf.
How do you Play?
Each player begins the game with 10 Francs in their pocket and 5 Francs on the board tracker, two peasant cards and a room at the inn which is represented by one of the players coloured key tiles.
The game is split into two seasons which is basically once the deck has depleted for the first time, you shuffle the discard deck and season two begins. Once this deck is depleted the game ends and all the Francs are totalled up. Both seasons are made up of various rounds and each round has three phases.
Phase 1: Welcome guests – 8 guests are drawn from the deck and placed face up in each room of the inn.
Phase 2: Player actions – On a players turn, they can take one of 5 different actions:
- Bribe a guest: Choose a guest in the inn and give them some sweet talking!. Play as many cards from your hand equal to the rank of the guest being bribed (0-3) and take the bribed guest into your hand. Any cards you played that have the bribe symbol are returned to your hand with the rest being discarded.
- Build an annex: Choose a card in your hand and get building! Play it in front of you, discarding the number of other cards equal to its rank. Any cards discarded with the shovel icon are returned to your hand. Once an annex is built, it will give you a special ability for the rest of the game and also allow you to bury corpses underneath it.
- Kill a guest: Choose a guest in the inn to be your victim and start stabbing! Discard as many cards from your hand equal to the rank of the guest being killed. Return any cards played with the gun symbol back to your hand. Take the victim and place it face down in your play area.
- Bury a victim: Choose one of your victims and start digging!. Discard cards equal to its rank, returning any with the coffin symbol to your hand. Place the corpse under anyones annex. Gain the money listed on the corpse. If you buried it under an opponent’s annex, you split the money.
- Pass / Launder: If you pass, you can visit the money launderer or simply do nothing. The money track caps out at 40 Francs. The money launderer will let you exchange money for checks. Spend as much money as desired from the track and gain an equal number of checks (or vice versa).
Phase 3: End of the Round – If there are any corpses in play and the police are still in the inn, each player must pay the grave-digger 10 Francs to dispose of the corpses and they will also be unable to collect any Francs from the victim. All cards removed by the grave-digger are removed from the game. Any guests that are still in the inn go to the discard pile and if they were in a player owned room, that player receives 1 Franc. Finally, each card still in a players hand costs them 1 Franc in wages each. If the player cannot afford to pay the wages they must discard enough cards until they can.
Once this is all done, the next round begins in the same manner. The next player will now welcome the guests in and the rounds are repeated until the draw deck has been depleted twice. One aspect of welcoming guests other than just placing them on the board is that if players have the room service tiles on various rooms the owner of that room will immediately receive Francs that are equal to the cards rank. So if you are not paying attention, you could be helping your murderous family members.
The Bloody Inn is a very enjoyable game. It’s fun with 2 players but really comes into its own with the full count of 4. The first few times you play it you won’t scratch at the underlying strategic possibilities that the game has and you could come away a little disappointed. Once the game clicks with you and your friends though it really can deliver a pretty tense experience.
You will start to think 2 to 3 moves ahead and be deciding what cards you want but of course you don’t want to be hording cards as that is a money drain. What if another player takes the card I was eyeing? Did they really just use my annex to bury a body? Did they kill the police to help me or are they planning something?
Other little things play out like players not noticing they are nearly at the 40 Franc limit and they are about to bury a 26 Franc valued victim while the rest of the players smirk behind their cards. Or when a player doesn’t take a card from another players room and then that player get the extra Franc and wins the game by one Franc. Or when a player has a tier 3 annex which can give a huge bonus at the end of the game depending on the card colours left in the discard pile, so all other players then begin brutally murdering the corresponding cards so that player doesn’t get a bonus all while racking up money for themselves.
You have to be watching and planning all the time. A fantastic little game.
You can pick it up from Amazon.
Time: 45-60 mins
Released: 2015 & 2016 (2nd edition)
Designer: Nicolas Robert
Publisher: Pearl Games