I grew up watching the classic monsters of film. Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolfman, Dracula, Godzilla, Creature from Black Lagoon, etc. I remember staying up late on Saturday nights to watch CHILLER THEATER with Bill “Chilly Billy” Cardille, a local TV personality where I grew up. Altho I am a fan of modern horror monsters, (Freddy, Jason, Jigsaw, Micheal, etc.) there’s something nostalgic about those nightmares of yesteryear that reserve a place, albeit a dark place, in my heart and memories from that time.
So when I heard about a Halloween themed game that presented these classic tropes in a light hearted family oriented fashion, I had to reach out to the creators. This game, SCREAM OR DIE by Amber Palace Games in Detroit MI, has just launched a Kickstarter campaign this past week. Daniel Blakney, one of the game’s designers, was gracious enough to send me a prototype of the game for review.
SCREAM OR DIE is a 2-4 player game that plays in 15-20 minutes for ages 8 and up that has a cute, non threatening, non violent style that can appeal to both adults that are old enough to remember those classic monsters and to children without having to risk having nightmares due to any graphic imagery or miniatures.
It seems that the Wolfman (Harry), a vampire (VLAD), the Mummy (Seth), and the Invisible Man (Griff) have been slacking off the job of scaring people. So their boss, an evil witch named Belinda, warns them that they better get their act together and start pulling their weight. They scoff at her and laugh. “Ok,” she says sternly, “You’ll regret it. I’ll see you in the morning.” When they wake up the next day, to their horror, they find they have been transformed into children. Belinda comes in with a cackle. “Ha! Now who’s laughing? If you want to be turned back into your former selves, you need to go out and do what monsters do on Halloween. Scare people! The first one that brings me back 13 pieces of candy gets the other’s paychecks for an entire month.”
And that’s where the players find our monster heroes. Each player will assume one of the 4 monsters and try to be the first one to scare enough people and get 13 pieces of candy. The mechanics are such that everyone is an active participant that must pay attention to what the dice are doing so they can attempt to mess up their fellow monsters and undermine the other’s chance of winning.
The game begins with the first player being The Roller. They randomly remove 5 dice from the bag. This is the start of your dice pool. Each player also starts the game with 3 Scream tokens. (that kind of remind me of the Rolling Stones logo without the tongue) Starting with the player to The Roller’s left, players can spend 1 Scream to tell The Roller to randomly add 1 more die from the bag to the dice pool. The player can add as many dice as they are able to pay Screams for. That continues until all players have a chance to randomly add dice. The Roller is the last one to to spend as many Screams as they want to do the same.
On the player board for each monster, there is a guide as to what color die benefits that monster’s chance of getting candy, from most beneficial to least beneficial. Yellow dice benefit Seth the most, blue dice benefits Griff, black caters to Vlad, and orange is Harry’s favorite dice. The specific color of dice that most benefits has numerous sides with that monster’s face on it as well as a side that grants that monster numerous pieces of candy. The color of dice that is least beneficial does not have any faces of that monster on any side. Once all players take their turn paying Screams and adding more dice to the pool, The Roller then rolls all of the dice.
Then, like before, the player to The Roller’s left can pay as many Screams as they have available to tell The Roller to re-roll that number of dice. The player must indicate the specific die they want re-rolled. So if Seth sees that there are 2 dice that show Vlad’s face, Seth can pay 2 Screams for The Roller to re-roll those 2 dice in hopes that it will land on a side that has his face. There are also white dice that benefit The Roller only. These dice have the Screams icon. There are also a few sides of the other color dice that have Screams on them.
To score, the players count how many dice are showing their monster’s face and that’s how many pieces of candy that they have scared up this round. The Roller also scores the number of Scream icons that are showing. The bag is then passed to the player on the left and that player is now The Roller for the next round. Each round is played in this fashion until one monster gets 13 pieces of candy and wins the game …. and everybody’s paycheck for a month.
SCREAM OR DIE is an easy game to learn and quick to play. For the adults, it’s a fun game for when you don’t have a lot of time to sink into a complex brain heavy epic. For the kids, it’s a cute and fun game that they can be an active participant and not succumb to boredom or distractions. The “take that” aspect also provides lots of interaction and strategy.
This game does a great job of keeping everybody at the table engaged. The player interaction is constant and light hearted. There is no down time or long lingering waits for your turn to come back around to you. Every player is invested at every moment. This is, truly, a family friendly game. While playing this game for preparation of this blog, I played with numerous people of varying ages and exposure to board games. Young and old, gamer and non-gamer. Everyone gave the experience a thumbs up. In a world where everybody’s noses are buried into a smart phone or tablet all of the time, Amber Palace Games has taken a fond memory of classic monsters and created a game that can connect generations together in social interaction.
The game is on Kickstarter at the time of this preview and is only $19. A small price for the chance to play a game all together as a family and create memories that will be cherished forever. Much like the fond memories I have watching those classic monsters with my parents on Saturday nights.
We also have a preview video of SCREAM OR DIE on our YouTube channel here that shows and describes gameplay but keep in mind that the version you are seeing is a prototype and the final product may be, and often is, different.