Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Happy 50th (13 Dead End Drive)

49 posts have come and gone.  Some games were great while others were not as good.  For this one, I pondered over which game was worth such a monumental position.  After much time deliberating, I have found the one I wish to talk about, one of the first interesting, unique games I've ever played: 13 Dead End Drive.

GAME DESCRIPTION: 13 Dead End Drive is a board game developed by Milton Bradley in 1990.  Aunt Agatha has died without a successor, and her closest 11 friends and employees (and her cat) have come together to read the will to find out which one has been left the estate. Careful though, as various traps have been set, and we wouldn't want anyone to die and not get the fortune, would we?

SET-UP:  Place the board and trap pieces all together on their specific spots.  Put the detective outside, and all the characters on the red couch spot.  Place the Portrait cards in the frame and hang it up on the wall, then reveal the first character portrait.  Then, each player is dealt an equal amount of Character cards, kept hidden in their hand.  Finally, shuffle the Detective and Trap cards together.

MOVEMENT:  The first player takes the 2 dice and rolls them.  That player moves any 2 different character on the board, one per die, regardless of who has them in their hand. All characters must be moved off their initial Couch space before they can moved again.  Each piece can move Vertically or Horizontally 1 space, but not diagonally 1 space, and must be moved their entire roll.  Thick black lines represent walls, which characters cannot pass.  They also cannot move on a space they already moved to that turn, or where it is occupied by another character or a piece of furniture like a table or vase.  Once the characters are moved, the turn ends.

PORTRAITS:  The current character hung in the portrait is the favored heir.  The goal of the player with that character in their hand is to have that character escape, while everyone else tries to prevent them from doing so.

DOUBLES:  If a player rolls a double, then you may move the portrait card currently showing to the back of the frame.  You may then either move 1 character the total amount of both dice, or move 2 characters as normal.

TRAPS:  Trap spots are identified by a colored skull.  Once a Trap spot has been landed one, that player draws a Trap card.  If it is normal, they place it in their hand.  After movement, if the player has a Trap card that matches the trap landed on, they can use it to spring the trap and kill the character.  If a character is killed, remove the portrait of that character when it is revealed from the deck, and the player discards that chacter from their hand.  Reset the trap back into it's set place.

DETECTIVE:  Additionally, the player may draw a Detective card.  If one is drawn, it is discared along with any previously used Trap cards. Then, move the Detective piece one place.  The game ends when the detective reaches the Game Over piece on the porch.

SECRET PASSAGE:  If a character reaches a Secret Passage tile, identified with a trap door, then they may pass through it to another Secret Passage tile.  However, passing through a Secret Passage requires 1 movement.  In addition, as players cannot cross spaces they have the turn, A player can only use either Secret Passage used once per that character's movement.

WINNING:  The game is concluded when one of three things occurs:
  • A character can leave out the front door when their portrait is hanging on the wall.  The player with that character in their hand wins
  • If only one character remains alive, then that character in their hand wins.
  • If the Detective reaches the stoop, then the player with the currently displayed portrait wins.

CONCLUSION:  I still remember the first time I played this, the cat won as the last one standing.  I had managed to pull out a victory by pure luck.  As a childhood memory, it was wonderful.  I can see now that it is a little gimmicky, but the feel in the traps and the careful maneuvering did feel like a lot of fun, and it got me into really interesting, different games.  There was a sequel called 1313 Dead End Drive. I only ever played it once, but I still found it enjoyable.  I would love to see this in a digital form, maybe with a bit more fluid gameplay.  While I can't say that it has much staying power in our current Golden Age of board games, it is still worth checking out once in your life, especially if you're a fan of Betrayal at the House on the Hill.

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