Werewords (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  • Designer: Ted Alspach
  • Publisher: Bezier Games
  • Players: 4 – 10
  • Ages: 8 and Up
  • Time: 10 Minutes
  • Times Played: 4

Werewords 3D Box.jpg

Werewords is coming this summer from Bezier Games, and it is available for preorder on their site.  I’m a huge fan of social deduction games — especially Ultimate Werewolf — so I was very eager to try this at the Gathering of Friends a few weeks ago.  I expected Werewords to be good, but even then, I was amazed at how great it was: I described it as one of my two favorite games of the convention.  

The design is excellent, an awesome mashup of a word game and a social deduction game.  The comparison to Insider is inevitable, since both are word-based social deduction games, but I think Werewords is substantially different and substantially better.

WerewolfinAction

The Theme

The Mayor of the village has found a magic word, and if everybody says it together, the Werewolves will be banished from the village.  Unfortunately, knowing this magic word has rendered the Mayor speechless, so that he may only answer yes/no questions with the use of tokens.  The Seer knows the word, but she must hide from the Werewolves, and the Werewolves know the word but are trying to lead the Village astray.  

The Gameplay

Werewords uses a free app — available on both iOS and Android — to facilitate gameplay.

To set up, take the Mayor card, Seer card, Werewolf card, and Villager cards so that the total number of cards is one more than the number of players.  Each player takes a card, look at it.  Then the Mayor flips up his or her card and takes the remaining face-down card.

TapYourRole

At this point, players will begin relying on the app, and the night phase begins.  Each player shuts their eyes, and the Mayor wakes up and selects his role on the screen (Villager, Seer, or Werewolf).  Yes, the Mayor may also be the Seer or Werewolf!  And the Mayor doesn’t necessarily have to tell the truth.

The Mayor then chooses his word from a list of 1-5 words, with players being able to customize the difficulty of the words available.  There are four levels of word difficulty: Easy, Medium (the default), Hard, and Ridiculous.  There are over 10,000 words in the app, and users can also type in custom words.  

The Mayor goes to sleep, and then the app tells the Seer to wake up and view the word.  

Then the Seer goes back to sleep, and the app tells the Werewolf to wake up and view the word.  The night phase is now finished.

During the day phase, the app runs a timer.  Players ask the mayor simple “yes” or “no” questions to try to identify the word, such as, “Is it an item?” or “Is it bigger than a breadbox?”

The mayor hands a player a token to answer each question.  The tokens are “yes,” “no,” “so close,” and “maybe.”  Players should only ask one question at a time, and the Mayor may only communicate by passing tokens.  

GuesstheWord

If the villagers guess the word, the Mayor presses the “Correct” button on the app.  The Werewolf shows his card.  The Werewolf still has the chance to win if he can guess the Seer, but if not, the Village team wins.

If time runs out, or if the Mayor has to press the “No More Tokens” button, the Village can still win if they guess the Werewolf in a vote after one minute of discussion.

Additional Roles

At higher player counts, or for more variety, you can work in additional roles.  

Components

You can add a second Werewolf, in which case the Werewolves know who each other are, and they both get the chance to guess the Seer for the Werewolf team to win.  Conversely, if the Villagers vote for either Werewolf, then the Village team wins.  

The Beholder knows who the Seer is, but does not know the magic word. The Beholder is on the Village team.  If the Werewolf points to the Beholder (not the Seer) in the event of a correct guess, then the Village team still wins.

The Minion knows who the Werewolves are, but does not know the Magic Word.  The Minion is the Werewolf team.  If the Village votes on the Minion (not the Werewolf) in the event of timing running out, then the Village team still wins.

My thoughts on the game…

I’ve played this four times, and I’m highly impressed.  I preordered Werewords, and I’m excited to try this with my Werewolf-loving game group back home.  The game is brilliant, an awesome mashup of a word game and a social deduction game.  

Werewords is streamlined and approachable, and this game could easily be enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers alike.  With so many words included, Werewords has a high degree of replayability.  Throw in the fact that gameplay lasts less than ten minutes, and you have a game that will work in a variety of gaming situations.  

As I said above, the comparison to Insider is inevitable, but I think this is substantially different and substantially better.  It is simply more fun and effective to have one player working for the Villager team (the Seer) and one working against it (the Werewolf) than just one person taking on both roles (as in Insider).  

Additionally, the app adds greatly to the game.  It facilitates the game, and it makes teaching the rules easy.  

The best feature of the app, though, is the large word bank (more than 10,000 words) and customizable word difficulty.  One of the problems with Insider was that it was an incredibly fragile game based on the difficulty of the word.  Both the ability to choose word difficulty and the game mechanics (splitting the Seer-Werewolf role in particular) fix that problem in Werewords.

The use of tokens is also a nice touch.  It makes it easier to track who has been asking a lot of questions, and what kind of answers they have been getting.  My advice: don’t let a player go silent, even if they normally play that role in social deduction games.  Everybody needs to talk so you can get a feel for what their role is, so if you see somebody without tokens, make them speak up.  

I’m a bit of a social deduction aficionado: I’ve collected and played dozens and dozens of them.  Werewords is one of the best social deduction games I’ve ever played.  The game can be played in less than ten minutes, and the app makes the game so easy that anybody could play.  Werewords is incredibly engaging: we had laugh-out-loud fun with this, and if your group loves social deduction games, I expect they will too.  

Thoughts of Other Opinionated Gamers

Greg S:  Had the pleasure of playing this several times at our East Tennessee Gamers sessions.  I am not a Werewolf fan, but this marriage of Werewolf and word deduction works extremely well.  It is fun and tense and makes for a wonderful party game.

Larry:  Sometimes simpler is better and I think I may prefer Insider to the high-tech Werewords.  Granted, Insider probably needs house rules to avoid the fragility that Chris talks about, but giving the clue-giver the chance to select an appropriate word seems sufficient.  Whereas when I played Werewords, I’ve seen situations where all of the provided choices seemed to spell disaster.  However, I predict the slick app will prove to be popular and, since the concept is a sound one, Werewords should be another Werewolf-themed success for Bezier.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Chris Wray, Erik Arneson
  • I like it. Greg S., Larry
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…
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