Growl – The New Werewolf

Joey Vigour

Unboxing and Components

First thing I did when receiving the game was to go through the unboxing and set-up procedure, which is usually very clunky and disorganised. Growl however is a game with fantastic production quality and component design.

Pictured above is all the compartments for the different types of cards, which is labeled, and easy to sort. The regular copy of the game (which is smaller, and doesn’t have the compartments) comes with a furry cover with googly eyes, that is cute as hell, but it won’t fit over my deluxe box, and that’s my only complaint with the components.

The art is also gorgeous, and the symbology is really simple and easy to pick up.

Gameplay – The Good

Social Deduction games have been evolving for a while now, and whilst I’ve personally been involved in some of that discussion, this game is a pretty good look at how Werewolf has been improved.

First: It’s moderatorless, which means that all players get to play, and one person doesn’t have to be a nanny. Big yay.
Second: No eyes open and shut every couple of minutes. One of the most awkward parts of the genre, that needs to go away, thankfully is only a set up action if you have a large number of players. If you only have four friends you can avoid this altogether!
Third: Player elimination sucks! I came here to play games! So while the base game keeps Werewolf’s original elimination style, the undead expansions turns dead players into a unique third faction, which is really neat.

The core gameplay is really simple and easy to pick up, and the modular nature of the expansions lets you just shuffled them in or not depending on what you want, they’re not too complicated beyond “Read and do what it says”. I really enjoyed keeping an eye on my neighbour as I always knew what card they were going to be passing, and that gave me an idea of what team they were on, but I think that you should rotate day stuff to alternate between clockwise and anti-clockwise for balance. What was also really cool is that there’s a currency mechanic which works as a semi-legacy VP system, where winning games earns you gold, and if you play a series of games in one night, you could compete to earn the MVP trophy title of: Wolf King or Wolf Queen (or a suggestion for my Enby fam: Deity of Wolves)

Gameplay – Gripes and Solutions

First issue in getting into the game, the rulebook wasn’t the greatest. It took quite a lot of mental gymnastics to try and decipher what it was trying to tell me, which was intense considering it’s a pretty simple game. My biggest confusion was the victory conditions, which are listed under “Ending the game” subsection “The Growl” which reads as if a werewolf could decide to begin the growl at any time to attempt to win the game early (potentially stopping an undead win, maybe) but nothing about what is supposed to happen once the game was completed. Very confusing.
Solution: Watch an online video, reading books is so 1755.

The final night cards were a bit anti-climactic. The way it feels like it’s supposed to run, is this big exciting thing is supposed to happen that makes or breaks the game, and then the game ends (the equivalent being in Werewolf where two good players must agree and vote on the werewolf or lose, and the discussion and tension is what makes it exciting). Most of the final night cards in Growl are variations of the group voting to kill a player, which honestly should’ve happened more than once. Then after the would be climax of the final night card, you do one final round of regular night actions, which feels like the princess going back to the tower willingly after the prince has rescued her and they marry.
Solution: If you are finding the same problems try shuffling a whole bunch of the night cards in, find a balance you like. Try three final night cards! Why not, the rules are a suggestion, not a policeman.

There’s nothing to track your own alignment, which can be a little confusing if you’re a wolf zero, and don’t get three bites to remind you in hand. Your responsible for remembering what team you’re on, and can accidentally cheat by forgetting, or some more unscrupulous friends can intentionally cheat, because you can’t stop them!
Solution: Love Letter’s rulebook says it best: “We suggest you don’t play with knaves who cheat at fun, light games.” But you might want to find a way to help you remember what team you’re on.

If you are a little reckless and overexcited, and shuffle all of the (correct) expansion cards into the deck it can get a little confusing, and there’s a bit of a mental load in trying to keep track of what all the cards will do, as there’s no reminder card with both the expansion things and base game things that you need to remember. Whilst playing with expansion cards is definitely recommended, it can be a bit much to use them all, or a bit dry to use none.
Solution: Don’t use all of an expansion, find a mix and mash version of expansion cards you like, and find a balance that suits your group.

Expansions

There’s four different expansions in the deluxe box: Spells, Curses, Undead, and 7Sins. Spells, Curses and 7Sins for the most part add passive effects that you can give to other players during card distribution in the day phase, which plays out like a “take that” addition to the game for the most part. Some of the “take that” is negative, and some of it is helpful, and some of it is more like “Hey everyone, who’s suffering right now?” and then picks that person.

The best expansion being Undead, which removes player elimination from the game, and instead turns them into vengeful murderous creatures, which is neat. It has a feeling of “Oh, you killed me? Prepare to die” Which isn’t deduction at all, but still feels involved.

Summary Judgment

I walked into this gameplay ready to absolutely write a scathing review, I’m bit of a snob when it comes to social deduction games, and having made a few of my own that I’m super biased and proud of, I have a pretty critical view. The game feels like it’s been balanced around really entry level players of the genre, people that like classic Werewolf and Secret Hitler (~Shudder~), and I think when I get a chance to play with some of my ideas above, it’ll feel a lot more at the complexity level I’m looking for from a social deduction game.

The production quality coming out of the box, in the clever storage design and component quality, as well as the really clear iconography and cute art is very, very impressive. Definitely a big selling point, and very kid friendly.

The gameplay is a small step in the right direction for people looking for a more involved social deduction game, I would bring this to attempt to convert people that are stuck on mission/voting deduction games (Avalon, Secret Hitler)

If your looking to get your kids into Social Deduction games as an attempt to get them into heavier games, this is probably perfect. It didn’t feel like one of those ‘argue with each other constantly until the game ends’ type of social deduction games, and it didn’t feel completely guesswork oriented like original Werewolf, and the art is super engaging, and directed towards younger players in my opinion. So if you’re a mum with a few kids between 10 and 16 and you’re looking for something like this for them, this is definitely it, the deluxe is definitely recommended too, I think the base edition would get dry too quickly without the expansions.

You can purchase your copy of Growl and the expansion from directly from the Vigour Games website – https://joeyvigour.com/shop/

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