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visitor in blackwood grove from resonym

Board Game Review: ‘Visitor in Blackwood Grove’ from Resonym

Visitor in Blackwood Grove from Resonym is a classic password game steeped in thrilling competition. Deduction games seem to have taken a turn toward hidden roles, but Visitor proves there is ample fun to be found in revealing a secret code.

Rather than receiving hints toward the code like Password, Visitor has players test guesses to determine the answer, more like the retro Mastermind or Code Breaker. To further the fun, instead of a sequence, the code is a secret rule made up by one player, akin to the card game Mao, meaning players will have to read minds to win.

Visitor in Blackwood Grove has a minimum of three players: a Visitor from another world, a plucky Kid, and government Agents. As seen in generations of film and TV, from E.T. to Stranger Things, the kids and agents are pitted against one another to be the first to gain the alien’s trust. This theme pervades the game at just the right level, laying a strong groundwork for stirring entertainment while not interfering with play. The watercolor-style artwork sets a perfect ambience for a world where everything is softened by the air of mystery.

The scenario in Visitor has the alien’s craft crashing in the woods. To determine whom to trust by baseline communication, the Visitor has put up a force field that will allow only certain items through, by a rule that the Kid and Agents must ascertain. The Visitor makes this rule up, something simple that could be figured out by anyone. Examples from the small deck of suggestion cards include “things that cost less than $50,” “things that contain metal,” “things that are red,” or “things that are in this room.” Players acting as the Visitor can be as creative as they like beyond these suggestions – say, things that are living or are edible by humans, or are above a certain size, although they want to make sure the rule can be figured out without including too many or too few acceptable options.

Once the Visitor has the rule in mind, the players take turns testing it. Both the Kid and the Agents draw hands of cards that contain a wide variety of objects – mice, flowers, desktop computers, a galaxy, a catapult, sweatpants, etc. They test the rule by laying down a series of cards and saying which will pass through the force field and which will not. The Visitor marks which guesses are correct, hinting toward the rule. Eventually players will determine that they have the rule (or something very close to it) figured out and attempt to prove the rule by correctly predicting whether the objects on four cards will pass. The first player to correctly prove the rule wins.

Several factors differ between the Kid and the Agents. Agents test their cards secretly, not giving up information. Kids test their cards openly, but they gain more powers as they make correct guesses, earning the “trust” of the Visitor and being rewarded with extra draws and seeing Agents’ cards. Players will likely have their favorite roles, whether making up the rule as the Visitor, enjoying withheld knowledge as the Agent, or gaining more power along with knowledge as the game progresses as the Kid.

Visitor in Blackwood Grove is a password game for three to six players aged eight and up. It is a quick game, lasting about 15 minutes. Games of three players may go by even faster, while games with more players will take a bit longer since more investigators will need time to take their turns. With speedy gameplay made flexible by Visitors choosing their own rules, players will return again and again to Blackwood Grove to compete in deciphering the secrets.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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