- Designer: Nicolas Robert
- Artist: Luis Francisco, Weberson Santiago
- Publisher: Pearl games
- Player count: 1-4
- Play time: 60 minutes
- Mechanics: Hand management, multi purpose cards
France 1831: In a remote corner of Ardèche, the little village of Peyrebeille sees numerous travelers pass through. A family of greedy rural farmers is determined to make its fortune and has devised a diabolical stratagem to achieve this goal: Invest in an inn so they can rob traveling guests, allowing them to get rich without arousing the suspicions of the police! Whether or not their plan will work out, one thing is certain: Not every guest will leave this inn alive….
In The Bloody Inn, you are one of the competitive innkeepers, bent on amassing the most wealth. Unfortunately, your morals hinder you from robbing your guests… at least while they’re alive. Fortunately, your scruples have no qualms with murder. Of course, you can’t just have dead bodies piled everywhere: It’s bad for business, and besides, what if the police drop by for a visit? It’s all so much work! Perhaps you could employ some of the guests as accomplices? Everyone has a price, after all!
At the start of the game each of the inkeeper receives 2 peasant cards, some markers in their color and a cheque for 10F. Further they receive a player aid, which doubles as an Annex. Play resolves around a central deck of visitors, which are used in several ways. The game ends when the deck is depleted for the second time. Whoever is the richest at the end of the game is declared the winner.
Each round is divided into three phases. In the Welcome Travelers phase, cards are placed from the top of the deck into the empty rooms of the inn. The amount of cards that come out vary for each player count. There will always be some neutral rooms as well as a single room in each player color at the start of the game.
In the next phase, players each have 2 actions they can perform, one at a time. for 4 of the 5 possible actions, players use the cards currently in their hand, so let’s dive into the anatomy of a card before going any further.
Each card has a color, paired with a symbol. This symbol depicts the aptitude that travel has. Below the illustration we have a value depicted in a gold circle. This is the amount of Francs a player receives when he buries said guest. Most cards have a house symbol in the bottom left, marking the card can be used as an annex. The text next to the house is the ability that you gain when the card is built as an annex. Finally, there is a number above the house symbol. This depicts the rank of the card. Values range from 0 to 3 and these mark how many cards need to be used to use the card in any way.
There are 5 actions available for players, so let’s go over them quickly.
- Bribe a guest. This action is used to take extra cards into your hand. you play an amount of cards equal to the rank of the guest you want to bribe, discarding any without an aptitude for bribing. Then you take the selected card into your hand. A player can opt to take up to two peasant cards from the bistro instead of bribing a guest in a room.
- Build an annex. This action is used to place a guest card as an annex. You play an amount of cards equal to the rank of the card you want to use as an annex, discarding all cards apart from those with the appropriate aptitude. You then place the card in your play area next to your player aid card, unlocking the ability on the card.
- Kill a guest. The principle is the same as with the other actions, play the amount of cards equal to the rank of the guest yu want to kill and discard all cards apart ftom the ones with the aptitude symbol for murdering. You then flip the card of your target to it’s ‘dead side’, showing a coffin with it’s rank and the money they are worth. These corpses stay in fron of you until you bury them with another action.
- Bury a corpse. Apart from the fact you need to play the correct amount of cards to bury corpse, you also need to have an annex available. Each annex has a place to hold up to the amount of corpses equal to it’s rank. A funny thing is that you are allowed to use the annex of another player, simply splitting the profit. Once you bury a corpse, immediately gain the amount of Francs depicted on the corpse.
- Launder money and pass. You can also opt not to take an action and liquefy your assets or vice versa. Move down the francs track in increments of 10, and receive cheques or hand in your cheques to move up the wealth track.
After each player has taken two actions, the last phase (end of round) happens. During this phase, you follow three steps.
- Police investigation. If there’s at least one police card (gun symbol) left face up in the inn, they start an investigation. Every player with unburied corpses needs to pay 10F for each of them and discard them. If you don’t have this amount left, pay what you can and discard the corpse.
- Traveler’s leave. Each player receives 1F for each guest left in a room of their color. After that, the cards are discarded as the travelers leave the inn none the wiser of the maccabre machinations.
- Pay wages. All players pay 1F for each card they have left in their hand at the end of the round.
The game can be played in either a short or a long version. This has quite an impact on the playtime, cutting it by at least a third. There also some alternate scenario’s available to be played, one of ehich is a solo variant. I have to say I have not played any of these yet, so I won’t take them into account in this review.
What drew me to this game was the maccabre them and the striking artwork. Pearl games has done some incredible games in the past (troyes, Deus, Bruxelles …) so even the fact that this is the designer’s first published game didn’t scare me off. I’ll start off by listing some of the things I really like about the game. I’ve already mentioned them and art style, but the best point about this game is the multiple ways you can use the cards. Since you only have 2 actions each round, it’s all about timing to be succsefull. You don’t want to be caught with unburied corpses, unless you don’t care about the consequences. I’m really on the fence about the 2 modes of play. In the short version I somehow get the feeling I’m not able to do enough with my available actions. The game can be over before you’ve built your ‘engine’. In the long game however, the game can drag out a bit too long. Ideally I would like to have something in between, but I’m sure that messing with the number of cards to put in the deck would be able to solve this personal gripe of mine.
In my eyes, the game can be pretty punishing. An example: At round end, you are left with 6 F, an unburied corpse, and 4 cards in your hand. To your horror, you realise there’s a policeman left in the in and they investigate. Not only do you lose the last of your money, but also your corpse. To top it off, you need to discard your cards becuase you’re left without money to pay them. Off course you should try to avoid such a situation, but the fact that this can happen and leave you crippled for the rest of the game bothers me.
I feel the good certainly outweighs the bad for me and The bloody inn is a neat little game. The fact that it can be played within an hour regardless of player count and the easy to understand rules will help this get to the table more often.