Ultimate Werewolf Legacy (Game Review by Chris Wray) (Spoiler Free)

  • Designers: Ted Alspach, Rob Daviau
  • Artist: Stephanie Gustafsson
  • Publisher: Bezier Games
  • Players: 9 – 16
  • Ages: 14 and Up
  • Time: 60 Minutes Per Game, Each Chapter is 3 Games, There Are 5 Chapters
  • Times Played: > 10 (With Several Additional Games as a Moderator)

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I love both social deduction games and legacy games, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Ultimate Werewolf Legacy.  I tried the game out in March, and I fell in love.  When it was released at Gen Con 2018, I bought two copies, one for each of my groups, and I’ve been working my way through the campaign ever since.  

In short, I think this is the best social deduction game I’ve played.  I rated Ultimate Werewolf Legacy a perfect “10” on BoardGameGeek — the first such rating I’ve given in years — and it currently sits in my personal Top 10.  Ted Alspach, the king of social deduction, and Rob Daviau, the king of legacy games, have combined their efforts to make an amazing gaming experience that social deduction fans like me are going to adore.  

As I often do with legacy-style games, I’m doing this in a FAQ format.  I’ve kept this spoiler free, though I do discuss at a general level my own campaigns.  

What’s the setting of Ultimate Werewolf Legacy?  How is the campaign structured?

Players are living in a New England village between 1688 and 1717, and they keep having to suffer those pesky werewolves.  As the game’s introduction says: “There is little recorded history regarding the werewolves of New England, the village where it all started, and everything that came to pass.  What follows is the best account. Given the spotty records and high incidence of fatalities, there can be no certainty of full accuracy. We have done our best to separate fact from fiction.”

A full campaign of Ultimate Werewolf Legacy takes place over 16 games.  The first game — called the Preface — teaches the players how to play the game and introduces them to some of the legacy mechanics.  

After the Preface, there are five chapters of three games each.  The decisions — and results — of each game and chapter will have an impact on future games.  

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How does the gameplay compare to Ultimate Werewolf?  

Ultimate Werewolf forms the core of gameplay in Ultimate Werewolf Legacy.  As in the base game, each player will have a different role each round, and the game is played in day and night phases.  The villagers eliminate a player — hopefully a werewolf — each day. The werewolves try to stay hidden and consume a villager each night.  

Along the way, there are special roles with different powers that can help the village or the werewolves.  Towards the start of the campaign, most of the roles in the game are villagers.  As the campaign progresses, you discover additional roles, and potentially even additional teams!

That said, there are some noteworthy differences from Ultimate Werewolf:

  • Because this is a legacy game, the results of each game — and the decisions the village makes — affect future games in the campaign.  
  • There is an overarching story of the village, and players write that story with the decisions they make.
  • There are a few minor differences that contribute to gameplay.  For example, all players are now grouped into one of five “families,” and their family can earn privileges in the village.  Players can also earn tokens and other items to help them in future games.

Many of the roles in the game are fan favorites, but I did also notice some new roles when playing Ultimate Werewolf Legacy!

What player count is best?  

The game accommodates between 9 and 16 players, but one of those players needs to be a moderator.  I haven’t played on the low end of the player count — I think my minimum was 11 — but I will say that the game seems to work well on all ranges of the upper end of the player count.

How long do individual games take?

The average game has taken my group about 45 minutes.  The box says 60 minutes, and we did have one game go that long, but in general we were able to finish a chapter (i.e. 3 games) in about 2 to 2.5 hours.  

I’d recommend only playing if you think you can get through a chapter.  That said, I do know of one group playing this game-by-game and it seems to be working for them.  

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Do I need to have a moderator?  Is moderating challenging?  Is it fun?

There does indeed need to be a moderator.  I’ve moderated more games than I’ve played, and I actually think being the moderator is a ton of fun.  I love watching the drama of Ultimate Werewolf unfold in a legacy-type setting.

One of the best features of the game is that the designers/publisher made the game VERY easy to moderate.  The leatherbound diary that comes with the game is one of the single best game components I’ve ever seen. Not only is it beautiful, but it is scripted with step-by-step instructions for exactly what to do.  

I think it is helpful if the moderator reads the chapter in advance, but I don’t think that’s necessarily critical.

Even the legacy aspect of the game is well put together.  There are stickers before each chapter, and as parts of the campaign unlock, it is very clear where to put the stickers to make the campaign truly your own.  

Is Ultimate Werewolf Legacy replayable?

You mark the diary, family cards, and other gameplay components, so the game will not be replayable at the end of the campaign.  That said, you can buy recharge packs from the publisher.

The game branches quite a bit, so it is unlikely that two campaigns will ever be the same.  Because of this, I think this game is highly replayable — and in fact, I’ve been replaying parts of it — since you’ll often be on a different “branch” on a second play through.  Sure, you’ll know some “spoilers,” but since you don’t known your role in future sessions, you can’t game the system to your advantage.  

So overall, yes, the game is replayable, but you’ll need another copy of the game or a recharge pack.  I just bought two copies of the game, but in retrospect, I wish I had bought just one copy and a recharge.

Do people need to know how to play Ultimate Werewolf?

I think it is helpful if people are familiar with Werewolf, but it isn’t necessary.  The Prelude does a great job of teaching the game’s mechanics.  Mixing really experienced werewolf players with inexperienced players probably would mean the latter gets eaten alive (pun intended), but they’ll still have a good time.  

Can people be substituted in and out of the campaign?

It is easy enough to add or subtract players.  I’d recommend waiting until the end of a chapter, but I suspect you could easily add or subtract players from game-to-game (even though we didn’t).  

My Top 15 Tips for a Successful Campaign

I wrote an article for BGG with my Top 15 tips for a successful campaign.  I’ve been answering questions in that thread, but for those of you that don’t use BGG, Bezier Games asked my permission to post it to their blog as well.  

My Thoughts on the Game . . .

I think Ultimate Werewolf Legacy is the single best social deduction game I’ve played, and this game has captivated me.  I’m a huge fan of Ultimate Werewolf, so I was always going to love Ultimate Werewolf Legacy. But this game has far exceeded my expectations, and I find myself thinking about it long after my village has disbanded for the night.  

Regardless of which path you take through the campaign, you’re getting 16 brilliant different ways to play Ultimate Werewolf.  And better yet, you’re adding a brilliant legacy aspect that really brings out the best parts of werewolf, adding a fun dose of strategy and excitement.  

Every single player I’ve played with — which has to be more than 30 different people at this point — has enjoyed the game.  That’s not to say the game is for everybody: if you don’t like social deduction games generally, or werewolf in particular, there’s nothing here that will change your mind.  But for people close to me drawn to this genre, this game seems to have earned high acclaim.

Everything in the box works well together.  The components are top notch, particularly the diary.  The rulebook and reference are well-written. And even the flavor text has impressed me.  I’m not one for the “story” in games — I’m a player who focuses on the mechanics — but the narrative here is excellent.  The flavor text helps clarify the rules and guide the campaign, and my villages have seemed keenly interesting in the plot of their own village.  Across the entire campaign, Ultimate Werewolf Legacy can tell quite the tale, and the diary in particular heightens that feeling.

One of the difficulties of campaign and legacy games is getting the rules down.  To be candid, I thought moderating Ultimate Werewolf Legacy would be a challenge.  So far, however, that hasn’t been the case: the diary makes moderating remarkably easy.  We have suffered through some rules ambiguity, but that seemingly happens in all legacy games, so I’m a bit forgiving of it here.  Overall, though, I find the reference and diary to be well assembled for a game that can fork down so many different paths.  

I’m highly impressed by Ultimate Werewolf Legacy, and I suspect this will be my favorite game of 2018.  It had been years since I had given a game a perfect “10” on BGG, a rating which that site defines as a game I will always enjoy playing.  But Ultimate Werewolf Legacy hits that mark for me, and it has crossed into my personal top 10 of all time. I look forward to taking part in many future villages.  

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!  Chris Wray
  • I like it.  
  • Neutral.  
  • Not for me…

 

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My Kansas City village,  which currently sits at 3 villager wins, 3 werewolf wins, and 1 win by another team.  A big thanks to Pawn & Pint for letting us convert their upstairs to 17th century New England.  

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One Response to Ultimate Werewolf Legacy (Game Review by Chris Wray) (Spoiler Free)

  1. Very cool! I don’t think I can make gatherings of 9+ players happen, but back in my high school years when we played the hell out of The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow, we’d have loved this one.

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