Beast

Are you ever tired of someone in your board game group? Or maybe your partner in crime that you normally play games with? Not to worry. In Beast, you can play as a mighty beast of your choice who can even summon disciples which will help you terrorize your friends. Beware though as you will be hunted by them in return. We have come across this awesome gem and all jokes aside, the art is simply outstanding and immediately caught our attention. Put that together with a great theme where one will always play the beast and the others will try and hunt it down and you have the potential for a great game. Let’s see who get’s caught first.
Note that this is still a prototype and the finished product might look or play different.

How to Play.

For the setup place the game board in the middle of the table. You will notice that the board has text specially for the beast and text for the hunters on the other side. The hunters will always play on the opposite side of the beast. place all habitat tokens, wound tokens, upgrade markers and ancient powers in easy reach of all players. Place the grudges a little closer to the beast along with trail tokens, movement cards and the beastly talent deck. Also reveal three cards from the beastly talent deck. Watchtowers together with item cards can be placed closer to the hunters. Also reveal three item cards from the item deck. Shuffle the item deck and place it nearby in reach of all players. One player chooses a beast of their choice together with the matching ability cards and player board, the remaining players choose their hunters together with the ability cards and player boards. If you play with two players, the player who will be the hunter, plays with two hunters. Choose a contract together for the scenario you wish to play and pay attention what side of the map should be used and if you are allowed to enter each zone. With less players, some zones on the map might be unavailable. Place the beast in the middle of the map and secretly choose two movement cards for the beast. Place each hunter on a village of their choice. Lastly place animal and settlers on each location on the map that has a matching animal or settler icon. Now prepare to hunt.

Beast is played in a series of rounds where one round is divided into dawn, day and night. The contract that is chosen during setup will tell you how many days you have to achieve victory and what those conditions are. For the beast this could be slaying an amount of villagers as for the hunters this could be slaying the beast or surviving a number of nights for example. You start the day with dawn where each player receives a number of action cards depending on the amount of players. For three players each player would receive four cards for example. Action cards have a top and bottom action. The top action can be used by hunters and the bottom action is for the beast. Each player chooses one card and then passes the remaining cards clockwise. Repeat this until no cards are left. Then it’s time for the day phase where the beast will always begin with playing actions.

On all action cards, beastly talent cards and item cards you will find a red or blue icon. On your turn during the day phase, you may play up to two actions from your hand as long as you play one red and one blue icon card in any order you want. Some action cards might have to be played on certain habitats on the map while others can be played everywhere. Other action cards might require an additional cost in the form of grudge tokens. The beast receives grudge tokens with every kill he makes while the hunters can acquire grudges through cards or rewards.
You can also play only one card only, or you can pass (as long as there are no other players with less action cards then you).

Lastly you can choose to flee. If you flee, discard one card from your hand in order to move one step. If you move as a hunter, simply move your hunter to an adjacent location unless a card states otherwise. The beast however moves different. If you play a card that states you can move (or if you flee), don’t move the beast marker. Instead, play a movement card from the movement deck. You can choose any direction north, east, south or west and play the card facedown on the movement tracker. The beast may always check the movement cards while the hunters cannot (unless an ability or card states otherwise). The beast marker only acts as the place where the beast is last spotted. But since the hiding skills of the beast are excellent, the hunters will have to find him first. If your beast moves two times north for example, the beast marker will remain in the same place, while the actual location of the beast will be two spaces north. If a hunter steps in the trail of the beast, the beast places one trail marker on each step that is taken on an active movement card.

Action cards can also allow you to attack. Hunters can only attack a revealed beast, or his summons while the beast can attack villagers, animals and hunters. If you have a good idea where the beast is located, you can stand on that location and play a search and attack card for example to strike the beast. If your search is successful and the beast is located on the location where you search, he has to reveal himself and he will receive one damage. The beast might be able to attack more subjects, but every time the beasts attacks, he has to reveal himself. If the beast has to reveal himself for whatever reason, place the movement cards face up to show the path the beast has taken and discard them. Also move the beast marker to the revealed location. If the beast manages to kill a hunter, take the hunters marker off the map and discard the main ability and item cards out of the game. Hunters will respawn during the next dawn.
Other then attacking and moving, hunters can also play action or item cards that allows them to set up a watchtower. Watchtowers reveal all trail markers on adjacent locations around the tower as long as a hunter stands on that location. I won’t reveal the beast but can still give you a good idea in what direction he went. Beasts can’t place watchtowers, but with the right cards and as long as it’s on the right habitat, they are able to summon disciples. Summons have one health and are always placed up to two spaces from the beast. Summons can attack, move or use their special ability if you play the right cards.

whenever a card tells you to take an item card or beastly talent, simply choose one of the faceup cards of the right decks or take the top card of the deck. The item cards can only be used by hunters while beastly talents are for the beast. Both decks provide hunters and beasts with more steps to use during the day phase and can contain powerful actions. Most item and beastly cards are self explanatory however, the item deck can provide you with special traps. In order to use a trap, play the card and choose a zone to place the card in, then choose what habitat will trigger the trap. The next time the beast reveals itself in that region on the right habitat, it will suffer the consequences of the trap. Place the card on the zone of your choice facedown, but secretly place a habitat token underneath. Remember that you can only play one red and one blue action card during your turn, whether it’s from an action card, item card or beastly talent. Once you have played your actions, the next turn goes to the player on your left. Repeat this process clockwise until no player has cards left or if every player chooses to pass.

The last phase is the night phase. Check the contract for the current night to see if you have gained any rewards. The contract will show different tasks for the hunters and beast to complete in order to gain rewards during the nights, like killing sheep for example or wounding the beast. The contract also shows what rewards you will gain as the beast or as hunters. Next discard all the action cards but keep all your ability cards, beastly talent cards or item cards that you have collected. Discard the current face up item cards and beastly talents and replace them by new cards. Then, remove wounds from all villagers or animal meeples that were not killed this round by the beast. Their wounds have healed over night. If a hunter has died, restore that hunter to full health and place their marker in any settlement. Lastly you can upgrade your hunter or beast with grudge tokens. As mentioned earlier, the beast receives most grudge tokens by killing animals or villagers, while hunters can mostly gain them by playing cards or contract rewards. Choose the upgrade you want for your beast or hunter, discard the necessary grudge tokens as mentioned on your player board and place an upgrade token on the ability you unlocked. You can now use that ability. You can unlock as many upgrades as you wish, as long as you can pay for them.

Check the contract to see how many nights you have left, if the last night hasn’t been reached yet, the cycle continues onto the next dawn again where each player draws new cards. If the winning conditions on the contract are met by either the hunter or the beast, the game ends immediately. If the last night has been played, the game will also end. The contract of your choice will tell you what the victory conditions are for the beast and for the hunters.

Playthrough of the game.

Normally I like to play for the good guys and if there is a villain in play, Tomasz will pick the villain. But for our first game of Beast, for some reason I decided to put my big girl shoes on and play with Mara the beast. The game has a lot to take in at the beginning but after reading the rules we started playing with the three of us in excitement. During dawn, we chose our cards and moved on to the day phase. It was then when I realized I already made mistakes. I had not payed enough attention if I picked up as many blue action cards as red action cards which forced me to create plan B. I would stay low this round, try to move to an unexpected area and strike down a pig which would give me a reward during the night because of the contract. All went well until I changed adjacent habitats in order to summon my banshee’s. The hunters now realized they were looking in the wrong direction and quickly tried to move to Mara. I decided to take a risk and kill the pig before going on the run. When I tell you I felt severely hunted, this is an understatement. When playing as the beast, you are alone. This means if the hunters know where you are, you feel alone and vulnerable and it creates so much tension! I somehow survived the first night and could claim my first rewards and even an upgrade. Next dawn, I was better prepared and chose my cards well. In the third night, I managed to claim victory with Mara the beast since I managed to kill three villagers. I was badly wounded and my banshee’s had been defeated over and over again, but I had won this war. This is just one of the many awesome stories we have experienced while playing this game.

If the art didn’t convince you about this game yet, then I hope the gameplay I just described did, because this game deserves it. The tension, adventure and adrenaline you go through while playing this game as a hunter or as a beast, makes this game worth your while. We found Beast is a lot to take in at the beginning, but once you survive that first night, it gets easier to play. Every hunter and beast also have different abilities which not only creates replayability, but also challenges you to get to know your best. Some beasts might have more health, but will have less strong abilities for example. Some hunters are maybe to scout the beast better, but they will need more movement. The draw phase is in my opinion also the most important phase of the day. Not only do you have to pick and balance your own cards, but you also choose what cards you will be passing on to other hunters. Or more importantly, what you definitely don’t pass on to the beast. Then there is the hidden movement actions of the beast which we think is brilliant and unique, but you are still forced to reveal yourself in the most critical moment which makes you think about your strategies. Even the placement of the hunters at the table can already make your game stronger as hunters. I’m not going to lie, the contracts we have played so far are hard if you play as the beast. But this creates an awesome challenge and makes your victory, if you manage to win, even greater. If you win as hunters, you share the victory which also ensures a great mood. We would not recommend this game if you can only play this with two players. The flow of the game is still good, but you just miss the communication experience you have if you play with more hunters which bring more life, ideas and strategies to the table.

Final Thoughts.

Beast is a hidden movement fantasy game where you play as one versus many. Let’s state the obvious. The art of Beast is outstanding and fits the theme perfectly. From the game board to the hunters, beasts and items. It all looks terrifying, mighty and epic. The gameplay itself has some awesome features that you don’t see in many games which challenges you to think of the best strategies and forces you to communicate the best you can. Although we would not recommend to play this game with only two players since the game does feel more empty. We think this game is epic to play with more players. And with six beasts, six hunters and all of their different abilities. You won’t be bored with this game soon. We can’t wait till the final product will reach our front door.
Note that this is still a prototype and the finished product might look or play different.

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