Disclaimer: Infected was provided by Black Forest Studio in exchange for its review. My personal opinions covered in this review are solely based on the gameplay Infected provides.
One of the worst pandemics in history – The Black Death – is spreading from a mysterious Plague Doctor. As a villager, will you be able to save your friends and expose the Plague Doctor’s identity? Maybe not since you could in fact be the Plaque Doctor! Shrouded in silent deduction comes the card game- Infected.
Infected comes with the following:
- 1 miniature token
- 1 square dice
- 32 Safe Cards
- 12 Dice Cards
- 5 Instant Vaccination
- 5 Delay Vaccination
- 3 Instant Infection
- 2 Delay Infection
- 1 Delay Infection x 2
- 3 Action Guide Cards
Note: Card Backs for Infected will be changed prior to Infected’s Kickstarter Release
From Black Forest Studio, Infected retells its melancholy backstory through its striking visuals, gameplay and inbuilt strategies. At first glance, the fear and uncertainty that the Black Plague brings is felt in the Plague Doctor cards’ colour palette; shades of muddy reds, browns and yellows. In contrast, earlier beliefs in the healing powers of divine intervention are reflected in the Villagers’ cards through the use of green flowers symbolising its restorative properties. The neutral cards in the game show a modern interpretation of dark themes in 14th century late gothic art during the height of the Black Death.
Reflecting further, Infected’s gameplay enacts the tense scenario of an impending outbreak through its high player count, delaying infection and players passing their cards simultaneously while not knowing each other’s cards. Strategies for Infected are relatively straightforward; with Villagers predicting where to pass vaccination cards while the Plague Doctor passes delay infection or instant infection cards.
The win condition for the Villagers is the discovery or the death of the Plague Doctor. Whereas, the Plague Doctor has to infect Villagers till there is one player remaining. With that in mind, lets get into the set up, how to play and my gameplay experience.
The Infected cards are split up into 2 types of Decks: The Plague Doctor and the Villager
Plague Doctor: 2 Safe, 2 Dice Roll and Infection Cards
Villager: 6 Safe, 2 Dice Roll and 1 instant and 1 delay Vaccination Cards
Once the following decks have been arranged, decks are shuffled around without looking and handed randomly to each player. There is only one Plague Doctor Deck and 5 Villager decks.
How to Play
Passing Card Phase:
Players pass cards following the direction given on the turn action card of their choice. Once they have chosen a letter to go with, players must not deviate from it until the round is over. For Example: Player A,B,C,D,E,F follow the direction of Pass Left and Right so A will pass a card to players on their left and right- B and C.
The cards are passed simultaneously and are not added to each players’ decks. Instead, they are placed in a seperate pile in front of each individual that has received a card. Once all cards have been passed, a turn marker is placed randomly on an individuals side to signify the declaration phase.
Depending on what the player has received, they either declare “Safe” or Infected”. Safe means a player will survive for the next round and declaring Infected means a player is out of the game. If the Plague Doctor or the Villager receive Dice Roll Cards, they MUST roll the die first before declaring. This takes priority over receiving an Infection card or despite being Safe for the round.
In response to receiving an instant infection, a Villager is “Infected” and must declare that they are unless they receive a Dice Roll Card. If a player receives one of the following: Delay Infection or Delay Infection x 2 they are considered Safe until the following turns on the cards have transpired. If a Villager receives an Instant Vaccination or a Delay Vaccination that matches with the amount of turns it would take for the infection to kick in, that Villager is now cured and is safe.
Before declaring, a Villager can choose to guess who the Plague Doctor is in exchange for their survival during the round. Guessing right will result in a win for Villagers while having a wrong guess will cost the Villagers their ability to play in the game.
I felt through playing the game that figuring out the rules of the game took quite a bit of reading. However, once we all understood how to play, our turns were straight forward and our games progressed quickly. Unlike most deception games like One Night Ultimate Werewolf or The Resistance, most reasoning is made through individuals and not through group discussion of who is the Plague Doctor. I feel that the mechanic of not being able to say who Infected you is fair as it would make the game too easy to win otherwise. At the same time, it creates friction as in most deception games there seems to be long debates and healthy discussions; gathering information on each player to make informed decisions. Whereas in Infected, there is no room for discussion while passing cards; you are playing your own game while silently cooperating with friends. I find myself not exchanging many words except for Infected or Safe and the occasional, “why me” when I run across a Roll Die card.
On the positive side, this iteration of a deduction game makes it less emotionally invested in others due to its quick playtime and its lack of intense discussions. This would be good for individuals who enjoy solving a mystery but don’t want to get upset trying to deceive players in the process. It’s portable which is another plus if you suddenly find yourself not knowing what to do in a big group of friends. However, needing a high player count has its downsides. Most board and card games need 2-4 players or 2 and more players and needing a flat 6 players isn’t always convenient. I can understand why the 6 players is needed though as the card passing mechanic and ways of deduction won’t work otherwise. Overall I would recommend getting Infected if you have a large group to play Infected with and enjoy deduction games without having to stress too much about deceiving and taking a side while playing.
Infected will be released on Kickstarter on March 28th! For more information on Infected, visit Black Forest Studio’s website for an in depth video demo and print play copy of Infected!