“Wiiise fwom your gwave!” – so spoke the voice at the start of the classic arcade game, Altered Beast. Necromancy shenanigans-a-go-go in Cadaver, a new game from the creator of Psychobabble, Kedric Winks. It’s a light set-collection game with a tongue-in-cheek theme where you play necromancers, looking to give life back to the various corpses you might find. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it might be for you. Maybe.
Corpse Revival 101
Cadaver is played with a big deck of mixed cards. Some cards are corpses which you can play in front of you, with the aim of collecting and playing the various resource cards needed to reanimate them. There are some ghouls in the deck which allow you to steal corpses and assistants from the other players. If it happens to you, it’s a pain in the arse, but luckily you have a couple of ways to counter ghouls.
Firstly you have coffin lid cards. These can be played on top of other cards which stops people from stealing them, but also means you need key cards to unlock and remove them. The crown jewel in the deck is the amulet card which can be discarded to counter a ghoul or played to act as two of any resource. That’s really all you need to understand to play the game.
On your turn, you play or discard up to two cards. If you complete a corpse, you discard the resources back to their relevant piles and turn the corpse sideways, adding to your completed pile for end-of-game scoring. After your turn, you draw back to five cards, either from the draw deck or from a resource pile, if you’ve found an assistant who can supply you with those things.
Light in the dark
You’ve probably gleaned all you need to know about the game now from that previous section. If it sounds super-light, that’s because it is. There’s very little strategic play in the game except for hanging on to amulets and ghouls for opportune moments. After that, a lot of the game is down to the luck of the draw. Whether that’s a pro or a con depends on your viewpoint.
If you’ve got older kids and want something quick and light you can play in a rainy tent when you’re camping, or a game which won’t test your brainpower, it’s ideal. Play cards, draw cards, play cards, draw cards – and repeat ad-nauseum. You can trade cards, but when someone is desperately trying to get a card for one reason or another, there’s very little impetus to help them out.
For my family and I, unfortunately, the luck element meant it fell flat a lot of the time. Let me give you an example. In our first game, my wife just could not draw a corpse card. Bad luck, for sure, but she went five consecutive turns without being about to play a corpse card and instead had to just keep discarding cards. All the while, my son and I are completing corpses willy-nilly. It made for a really frustrating game for her, which left a really sour taste in her mouth.
It’s a bit trite to say, but Cadaver is what it is. It’s a quick, easy, set-collection game with a generous helping of take-that thrown in for good measure. Luck plays a huge part in the game which might be a problem for people who like don’t enjoy luck. I think the trade mechanism in the game is meant to counteract the luck, but as I mentioned above, unless you’re on the favourable end of a very lop-sided deal, there’s very little reason to help someone out.
The artwork and presentation throughout is great. Macabre and thematic without being gross or graphic. I especially like the way the iconography for resources is shown on the assistant cards. There’s a cute addition to the presentation where you’re meant to use the box to hold the draw pile, and the box is designed to look like an open grave.
Despite Cadaver not being a game I’d tell you to rush out and buy, I’d definitely recommend it for something like a Halloween party, or horror-themed event. Who knows, maybe your crowd will get more out of it than I did, but for us, it just fell a little flat.
Review copy provided by Cheatwell Games. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Design: Kedric Winks
Publisher: Cheatwell Games
Art: Augustinas Raginskis
Playing time: 20-30 mins