I'm a vampire, you know what I mean, and I do my little turn on the batwalk, yeah, on the batwalk...
|Vamp on the Batwalk (2020)|
|Designer(s)||Jon Simantov||Artist(s)||Mike Rankin||Publisher||
Jellyfish Game Studios
Some vampires just let themselves go after a few centuries, but a new wave of vampires know the importance their appearances play in the history of the world. No one wants to be caught undead in a drab and outdated black cloak. Oh Dracula No...Each decade clothes get sleeker, sexier, and perfect for when you are feeling a little famished and need to go out for a bite. Sure, vampires can't see themselves in mirrors, but others can see them. The only way to know if you are looking good is to see how other vampire react to your style.
Box and Components
The game comes in a box roughly the same size as Munchin boxes. What I found interesting about this box is once you remove the plastic wrap, there is no details on the back of the box; there was a sheet that had that information. The bottom of the box is actually the batwalk/score track. So along with the top half of the box, it will be used during the game, which I think is clever. There is also a plastic insert perfectly sized for all of the games components, but once you remove the standees punch board, a few of the cards could slip out of their space when rocked around. Putting something under the plastic insert could fix this; unfortunately, the left over cardboard from the standees aren't big enough (wide/length) for this purpose. However, this is not an issue unique to this game and is actually pretty minor since their insert holds the cards nicely.
The game comes with:
- 6(+4 KS) Character Standees: 6 from the base game and 4 that are listed as Kickstarter. So I am not sure if these will be included with future print runs of the game.
- 6 (+4 KS) Standee Bases
- 42 (+28 KS) Vampire Cards: There are 6 suits of 7 vampire cards; the suits are tied to the color of the vampires played each game. Within each suit of cards, there are cards numbers 1-5, a garlic card, and a star card. There are also 4 additional suits for the additional Kickstarter characters.
- 6 (+4 KS) Player Reference Cards
The cards are bigger than your standard playing cards. Because of their larger size, they are fairly flexible, but they seem to return to their shape if not folded more than 90 degrees based on a few tests. They are certainly not the thickest cards, but they still feel pretty good. You will be unable to use card sleeves with these cards if you intend to keep the plastic tray though. The artwork matches the art on the outer box with their cartoonish vampire vibe. The character standees are nice and thick; they should hold up plenty well as long as you put them in the bases carefully.
I will be focusing on the 3+ player rules in this section. Before we jump into how the game is played, my simple explanation is this game feels like you are combining a trick taking game (like Spades) with Hanabi's blind card mechanics, a dash of Uno, and pinch of rock/paper/scissors. You are playing tricks only with the knowledge of what suits you have but not their value; however, you can see what everyone else has (suit and value). If you don't know what one of those games are, no worries; this game should be very easy for new players to pick up after a round of play.
A term that will be used is "lead" card. This is a term from trick taking games that basically means that card represents the current winner of the trick; the current lead will also determine which suit has priority. Also, they refer to their tricks as "Shows."
- The bottom of the game box is actually your walkway and score track. Simply remove all the loose contents from it and flip it over flat on the table. Place the bottom of the box with the Start Side into the top of the box which will be standing (this will create an L with the two parts).
- Each player will collect their vamp standee and player reference. Your standees will go at the Start spot on the batwalk, which should be inside the lid section. Place the player reference in front of you.
- For each player, find their colored suit of cards and shuffle all of the player cards together; for colors/suits not used, place those aside as they will not be used this game.
- Deal each player 5 cards facedown. Players will pick up the cards such that they see the back of the cards and the other players are able to see the fronts.
The most fashionable player will start; alternately, use your preferred method for deciding the start player.
- The active player will start the first Show by playing any card from their hand, again without looking at the front of the cards; this card is the current lead card.
- Other players will play a card from their hand; there are no restrictions for what they can play. Be sure to keep the cards arranged in order played because that will be key for deciding who wins.
- The winner of the Show will be decided by the following rules and will score one point:
- If only numbered and garlic cards (no star) are played of the same suit, the highest numbered card becomes the lead and can only be defeated by a star or by stealing the show.
If a star card is played of any suit and no garlic is played, the star card becomes the lead and can only be defeated by a garlic card or by stealing the show.
If a garlic card is played of any suit and a star is played, the garlic card becomes the lead and can only be defeated by another garlic card or by stealing the show.
Stealing the Show: If a card of a different suit is played but matches the value (number, garlic, or star) of the current lead card, the new card becomes the lead card and that player immediately scores a point for stealing the show. At this point, the rules follow the same logic as above but with the new suit being lead.
The next show is started by the player to the right of who just won.
The round ends once cards have been played from players hands. Repeat the card setup and these steps for a total of 5 rounds.
The game ends when one of the following conditions are met:
- If one player reaches 10 points, the game immediately ends and that player wins!
- If all 5 rounds are played, the player with the most points wins! In the event of a tie, play another round.
2 Player Mode
Since the game wouldn't play correctly with just 2 players, there is a 2 player variant that includes an AI player. The game functions mostly the same except the AI player's hand will always be the first card played for a show. The AI wins points the same way as the players, but they win immediately if they reach 5 points.
Vamp on the Batwalk combines a lot of well established game mechanics to create a very unique game with an unexpected theme. While the game's mechanics may seem like a lot of little conditions for deciding who wins the show, it becomes very easy to follow once you play a full round and understand the really simple factors. It is so interesting so see how they essentially took a trick taking game and stacked the elements from the other games I mentioned on top of it. While this wouldn't work for a longer game of a traditional trick taking game, for the length that this game lasts, it is a lot of fun. What I really like is the fact that all cards, regardless of their value, have a chance to win a Show because of their use of a rock/paper/scissors ruleset and the use of the suit shifting from Uno.
As someone who is a huge fan of trick taking games, I was initially skeptical whether this would actually play well, but I was pleasantly surprised that is really does. While some people may not see the strategy with the game since you can't see your cards, there is actually a lot of strategy hidden within. You have a lot of information available to you thanks to being able to see the other players cards. The only cards you won't know is your own and the 2 per player not dealt during that round.
I really didn't know what this game would offer based on the description, theme, and artwork, but I am very impressed by the level of depth that is hidden within this cute game that looks like it is targeted to older children/teens. If you like trick taking games with a unique twist, be sure to check out Vamp on the Batwalk.
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