13 Dead End Drive comes back to the gaming table from Winning Moves Games, bringing mayhem and murder to a new generation of gamers. While heavily strategic games like Kill Doctor Lucky pit players against one another to get out of sight to commit murder, 13 Dead End Drive has the murders happen all out in the open. They are all accidents, of course: someone just happened to fall off the bookshelf ladder, trip into the fireplace, or have a suit of armor topple on top of them.
The thematic action of 13 Dead End Drive places it practically into a category of its own. Players secretly divvy up cards of the potential heirs of poor departed Aunt Agatha’s millions. The portrait over the fireplace shows who will receive that money, although pictures can change, as can the living status of that person. The Detective is on his way to settle the matter, so players will have to be quick to eliminate the competition. There is nothing quite like the feeling of releasing a chandelier to crush an opponent’s pawn as one more step toward victory.
In play, 13 Dead End Drive has straightforward rules making it perfect for a macabre family night. Younger players can direct themselves, and the ever-evolving strategy will keep older players engaged as they struggle to be the last one standing. Players take turns rolling two dice and then moving any two pawns on the board. Some players may try to make a mad dash for the door, while others might cleverly place themselves or bluff by moving others’ pawns.
Any time doubles are rolled or a character whose portrait is shown meets a surely accidental end, the portrait changes to make a different character in the running for the fortune. Players will want to memorize the order of the portraits, since each time it flips to the back. This will allow them to plan roughly for when one of their characters will again be in position. They may even avoid springing a trap on an opponent just to give themselves more time to better position themselves to make a hasty exit.
With three ways to win, 13 Dead End Drive is all about weighing options. A player who is able to move their pawn out the door with the portrait above the fireplace wins. Alternately, players may risk waiting the game out until the Detective arrives up the sidewalk to pronounce the winner from the portrait. In the other direction, players may slaughter one another to be the last one standing, thereby winning the inheritance by default.
13 Dead End Drive is a board game for two to four players aged eight and up. While there is certainly strategy in choosing which directions to move and optimizing murders from the rolls on the dice, this is a social game. Players have to read their opponents to know who is bluffing and who is at the top of the list to be bumped off. After all, no one can be trusted until someone has that money!