Great Mechanics – City of Horror

Monopoly is a scourge against board games and in my opinion the reason why most people who don’t know anything about them would rather have their fingers cut off than play one. There are so many reasons to dislike it, long lengthy games with no end point, play and go mechanics, no twists or shifts in tempo and a slow endgame based on player elimination, but one of the worst aspects of it is the house rules system. This is the area where groups of players will substitute their own interpretations on how to play the game in certain situations, for instance rolling doubles, going to jail, getting out of jail and the process of mortgaging off properties. These rules are pretty much comprehensively covered in the rulebook, but that doesn’t stop house rules regarding these events to be ruthlessly enforced by the cabal of players who came up with them in the first place.
If you’ve ever experienced pressure to succumb to house rules why not get your own back by buying a copy of City of Horror and exposing everyone to a nice family game of feeding the smaller and weaker amongst your number to a hoard of brain eating zombies. The basic setup is simple, each player gets 4 characters and then these characters are assigned to one of 6 locations on the board. Over the course of 4 turns zombies build up outside these locations and once they meet a certain threshold the players with characters in that location have to vote amongst themselves to see who is thrown outside and eaten. Each player in a location gets a number of votes equal to however many of their characters are inside and ties are decided by the last player who had a character eaten. To add to this players are dealt a hand of cards at the start of the game that when used give one off effects like reducing the amount of zombies outside, moving zombies to another location or more sinister abilities that effect the voting process.
'One way to get through the ordeal of existence is to behave as if youíre no longer sentient':  Lond
The way this usually manifests is that during the start of the game when there are only a few zombies on the board, players are trying to pick them off with the cards in their hands to avoid their locations meeting the threshold required for a vote. As its quite hard to acquire new cards it transitions into a midgame where players are starting to run out of these cards and are instead faced with a hand of effects that allow them to manipulate the vote instead. If you think you are going to be outvoted you could force a player to vote for whoever you chose, if there are only two of you in a location, why not prevent the other players from naming anyone and if all else fails and you have made powerful enemies you could remove yourself from the voting and sacrificing process entirely by playing the “hide” card.
This game has several warnings from people by who have reviewed it who say that it ruins friendships and leads to people holding lengthy grudges against each other after having a character betrayed and eaten. But all that’s happening is that the game is exploiting a psychological quirk in human nature, namely that people will work harder to avoid losing something than they will to try and acquire something.
Each player starts the game with 4 characters where most games would only give them 1 and the moment it looks like they might lose one they panic and start trying to compensate. This loss aversion is demonstrated extremely well at the end of the game when the scoring begins as the characters can only be counted as surviving if they have picked up a vaccine token to immunise themselves against the virus. How much time do you think most players spend worrying about picking up the vaccine tokens? You guessed it. Not as much as they should have.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.