Most people are probably aware of anime and board games in their own individual mediums, such as Dragon Ball and Demon Slayer, or DnD (Dungeons and Dragons) and Warhammer 40,000. Both mediums are prevalent, garnering millions of fans all over the world. However, because of the popularity of both mediums, it probably comes as no surprise that the hype for an anime-based board game is over 9,000! (Sorry, not sorry, I had to do this), jokes aside, from a business standpoint, the demand for fans to see their favorite character(s) in board game form is too strong of an opportunity to pass up for developers. For this reason, I would like to introduce you to the world of anime-themed board games, where, throughout the following 5 articles, I will introduce a new game!
While I will not be talking about Dragon Ball nor Demon Slayer, this week's board game is based on another popular franchise: That game is Tokyo Ghoul Bloody Masquerade. Before we move into the game itself, let's start with an overview of the anime's premise.
The Tokyo Ghoul world is an alternate reality to our own, taking place in, to quite no one's surprise, Tokyo. However, this world is fascinating because there are also ghouls (equivalent to vampires) inhabiting the city. Specifically, there are two types of ghouls: full-blooded and half-blooded. Full-blooded ghouls solely consume humans, and half-ghouls, who can eat either humans or regular human food. Of course, with ghouls basing their diet primarily on human consumption, this causes tension between humans and ghouls in this universe.
Due to this tension, ghouls often have to get creative when they need to feast. This leads us to introduce the protagonist, Kaneki, who has to quickly learn to eat shortly after becoming a half-ghoul upon his encounter with Rize. He meets Rize (who is a full ghoul) at a coffee shop, she tries to eat him, and he barely escapes the deadly encounter. Soon after this unfortunate event, he discovers that he has become a half-ghoul at the hospital due to the surgery that saved his life. From there (and throughout the series), he learns to deal with his new way of life, balancing the ghoul society and human society.
All while getting wrapped up in the politics and tensions of both worlds, but I'll let you discover that yourself. Now let us talk about the board game based on this series.
The central premise of the entire game is to keep your identity a secret. There are three significant identities within this game: Ghoul, Human, or Inspector. The general goals for these identities are as follows:
The Human identity, the main goal is pure survival. (Which will be collecting the food/green or yellow/coffee cards)
The Ghoul identity, where you focus on devouring humans. (Which will be the red/transformation cards)
The Inspector identity, kill a ghoul. (Which will be the blue/dove cards)
Now, the main playstyle is dependent on the group. The three main ways to win, which are as follows:
Kill to win-which is when one player meets a condition, and another player meets a requirement. For example, if a Ghoul player has two blue cards, and the other player has three suspicious tokens, the Ghoul can 'kill to win.'
Survival win-the main aim for Human characters. You must make it to the end of the game without being killed and having two cards of the same color.
Instant victory-having three cards of a given color in your hand.
Essentially, the Ghoul players are trying to kill the Inspector(s), and the Inspectors are trying to kill the Ghouls, and the Humans are trying to just survive. The game ends when all clues are gone, someone has been eaten, or a Ghoul is killed. Within these three central identities, there are a total of over fifteen characters to choose from, which include the likes of Kaneki, Touka, Juzo, or Rize, even the mistress herself who turned Kaneki into a half-ghoul is playable.
Now, how many players can sink their teeth into this game? If you have a group of anywhere from four to eight people, you are set to play! Also, what might the board game include? Well, it comes with:
The main card setup is interesting: each player gets three cards, two of those cards have to be shown to one player (on your left), and the other player on your right is shown the last card. The main idea of this is to help give other players an idea of what each player has when starting the game. Assuming one doesn't declare instant victory, the turning process is in a clockwise direction. From there, depending on your location, you can get an interrogation or place a suspicion marker.
Be wary of specific action markers and location tiles as well! There are precisely eight location tiles that will keep players at bay- upon landing on one of the 8 tiles, another player will have the opportunity to interrogate you! (Although a card exchange must be completed upon finishing the interrogation), and an action card with a red background might cause suspicion. Once everyone finishes the first round, the process repeats until the suspicion tokens are moved out of the centerboard, and someone has met a survival condition.
Overall, once you and your friends pick your respective identity, decide on the play style, and shuffle out the initial round of cards, you all are ready to play! The game itself is a rather interesting take on a popular anime franchise, and the makers (Don't Panic Games) seem to have done well enough at adapting the premise to a board game. The artwork, cards, board, and general pieces all are amazing to look at as well. However, the rulebook, ways to win, and the overall setup are a bit complex at first, which might be intimidating for new players.
To conclude, the game itself is definitely one for any Tokyo Ghoul fans out there. I personally recommend checking it out!
For more anime content, check out Kyle's article "Finding Community in Anime and Manga".