Alright, it’s been a while, but I figured since One Night Ultimate Alien arrived pretty recently I might as well work my way through the rest of them, too. This one’s completely different from the rest, but, here we go.
One Night Ultimate Vampire is the third game (it also claims standalone status and can be played without ONUW) in the One Night Ultimate Werewolf family from Bezier Games, started on Kickstarter a while back. This one is ostensibly a prequel to the other One Night games, as you find yourself in a town full of vampires and you’re eager to get rid of them. However, the Vampires can mark you and claim you as one of their own, and apparently there’s an Assassin to worry about? Yikes. Either way, will you be able to figure out what’s going on and bring your team to victory? Or are you only in it for yourself?
Setup is actually, unsurprisingly, identical to ONUW’s setup and ONUWD’s setup. That being said, a few points deserve to be reiterated. I will insist (and One Night Ultimate Alien will require) that you download the One Night App. It’s on both major mobile OSes, and it’s a huge help for explaining what roles take what actions when.
You’ll once again notice there are a bunch of role cards and tokens, but even more tokens than last time, if such a thing were possible. Some of these are role cards:
Some role tokens:
Some are marks or weird boards for holding marks:
Either way, pick N+3 roles (where N is the number of players and contains two vampires, unless you want to get more crazy) and deal a role to each player. Also give each player a Mark of Clarity, but keep it face-down. Put the remaining roles in the center and the Mark Boards, with the relevant marks in them, face-down. There’s no reason why you can’t just put every Mark in the Mark Boards, but players might get confused and grab the wrong ones. If you are playing with the Doppleganger (and if you are, I’m sorry), add an additional set of Marks face-down near the Mark Boards. Each player should look at their role and push it towards the center once they’re ready. Generally, once your setup looks like this, you’re ready to begin:
Let’s continue in Gameplay. If you’re using the app, don’t forget to set the roles you’re playing with before you hit start.
Unlike ONUW and Daybreak, there are three phases: Dusk, Night, and Day. Normally, during the Night, players will (or won’t!) wake up and perform various actions based on what role they started as when the Night began. After that ends, the Day begins. Players need to essentially reconstruct events to figure out what happened and figure out who the Vampires are. However, this game adds a Dusk Phase, in which the Vampires (and a few other roles) wake up and mess with the Marks that other players have.
At the end of the Day, the town collectively votes to kill a vampire — whoever receives the most votes is killed. Generally, if they’re a vampire, the Village team wins. If they’re not a vampire, the Vampire team wins. If there’s a tie (with each player receiving two or more votes), both players are killed. If either player is a vampire, the Village team wins. There are some times that this isn’t true, and I’ll explain when those cases are when I talk about roles.
The Dusk Phase (and Night Phase) both proceed in role number order, where the role tokens have numbers that indicate the order in which they wake up (starting with -8 and going up to, like 13, in later sets). There may also be letters on your token, indicating that you should wake up after roles with letters earlier in the alphabet than yours. If you have no role number, generally, you do not wake up. You just go to sleep at Dusk and wake up in the Day. That said, every player wakes up between the Dusk and the Night Phase to look at their Marks. Once you have done so, you will not look at your Mark again unless you are told to do so. In order to make this process of roles and sleeping and waking up move smoothly, you will either need to have one player take on the role of Announcer, and they’ll manage the roles, or you can just download the app because one of your group of at least 3 people must have a smartphone or access to a smartphone emulator? Maybe? Maybe not. The app will handle the Dusk and Night and set a timer for the Day, but if you’re not using it you should set your own timer for the Day.
Again, it might be beneficial to go through each role quickly and explain what they do. I’ll go in order of how the roles wake up and provide a brief rundown of each of the roles. Please note again that your action during the night is the role you started as, not any role you might have changed to. Also do not look at your card again when the night begins unless your action allows you to do so. Additionally, when you give a player a Mark, return the Mark they had previously to the Mark board without looking at it. It should just go in the slot that you took your Mark from.
Meet the Roles
The Copycat is familiar with the Doppleganger from One Night Ultimate Werewolf, but correctly agrees that their whole business is a bit too confusing for his tastes. He’ll settle for a role that nobody else has. He wakes up and must view one of the center cards. For the rest of the game, the Copycat is that role. They wake up and perform their action when their new role is called. If someone steals or moves the Copycat, it is still whatever role that it saw. It’s basically what everyone pretends to do when they’re the Apprentice Seer, but as a real role.
The Vampire is pretty much just here to do normal Vampire things, like go to high school and watch you sleep and occasionally star in musical episodes of a classic beloved television series. You think that’s weird (or at least, you think the first two things are weird), so, yeah, out he goes. Either way, the Vampire wakes up in the Dusk phase and must give a (non-Vampire) player the Mark of the Vampire, turning them into a Vampire as well. Well, as long as they have that Mark…
The Master (#-6)
The Master doesn’t spend all his time trying to kill Buffy — he also terrorizes some villages when he goes on vampire vacation (turns out vampirism gives you 12 holidays and 15 days paid vacation, which is solid, especially in the US). In addition to waking up with the Vampire team and marking another non-Vampire player with the Mark of the Vampire, he has some extra protection courtesy of his allies. During the vote, if any Vampire votes for the Master, he cannot be killed. That’s handy, I suppose.
The Count (#-6-B)
The Count is so good with numbers that it’s scary. Literally terrifying. In addition to waking up with the Vampires and giving another player the Mark of the Vampire, the Count wakes up next and gives any non-Vampire player the Mark of Fear. If you have the Mark of Fear, you cannot perform your night action. You just have really bad math dreams instead, ah-ah-ah.
It wouldn’t be any fun without a Minion, right? Well, the Vampires don’t have a Minion, but they have Renfield and he’s pretty much just as good. When Renfield wakes up, the Vampires point at the player they gave the Mark of the Vampire. He now knows who all the Vampires are. He then gives himself the Mark of the Bat.
Uh, this is a weird character. The Diseased gives a player on their left or right the Mark of Disease. It makes them really, really gross. So gross, in fact, that if you vote for the player with the Mark of Disease, you cannot win. They still might die if they get the most votes, but you can’t win. Funny thing is that the Diseased is on the Village team, so they do still want to kill a Vampire, even if it has their Mark. Good luck with that.
Cupid realizes that you can solve more problems with love than violence, but also that you can solve even more problems with love and violence. That’s just good math. Cupid gives any two players the Mark of Love, meaning that they are now lovers. At the beginning of the Night, any player with a Mark of Love wakes up and sees if they have another lover (they might not, due to shenanigans). The problem is, love’s a funny thing. If the player you love is killed, you die as well, of a broken heart. Careful!
And you thought the Troublemaker was bad. The Instigator gives any player the Mark of the Traitor, meaning that they only win if a player on their team dies. Note that if they give it to a player that’s the only member of their team (Lone Wolf or something), then nothing happens. Honestly, half the time I’d just expect the Instigator to give the token to themselves.
It’s not bad to have a friend with all these vampires around, and the Priest is certainly that. He uses his Holy Whatever (that’s a technical term, mind you) to cure players of their Marks. Also, he’s immune to Vampirism (and Love). The Priest first gives himself a Mark of Clarity, and then gives any other player a Mark of Clarity, as well. How nice.
Yeah so for some reason you’re living in a The Whole Nine Yards scenario and one of your neighbors is an assassin. Honestly, with Vampires running around, you just hope he’s on your side. The Assassin chooses a player and gives them the Mark of the Assassin. The Assassin only wins if that player dies. He doesn’t really care about Vampires or Werewolves or Villagers or anything; he’s got a job to do.
Apprentice Assassin (#-1-B)
Similar to Daybreak’s Apprentice Seer, there’s also an Apprentice Assassin. This apprentice, however, has more of an “Anakin Skywalker” thing going on and both hates sand and figures it’s high time she becomes the Master Assassin. During the Dusk, she wakes up after the Assassin marks his target and they mutually see each other. Problem is, the Apprentice Assassin only wins if the Assassin dies. There are only so many ways to get a promotion in this town.
You’ve got a sharp eye, so you get to see what’s going on. During the Night, you choose two different players. View the Mark of one of those players, and the Card of another.
Pickpocket’s essentially the Robber of Marks. You swap your Mark with another player’s Mark, and view the Mark you took from that player.
And the Gremlin’s ONUV’s answer to the Troublemaker. The Gremlin can swap cards (or marks) between any two players. Yes, this means that the Gremlin can get rid of their own card. What fun.
One last thing. You might mix some roles with the One Night Ultimate Werewolf or Daybreak sets. If you are planning to do that, that’s fine, but if you’re using the Doppleganger, just note that Doppleganger is now -7 and goes after Copycat. Generally, the Doppleganger gets an extra set of Marks to use for the game.
So that’s all the roles. Again, during the Dusk and Night every player should keep their eyes closed until it’s their turn to open them (if they wake up at all). Some additional suggestions during the phases:
- Play some music. It helps distract from any noises players may make while they’re moving around or minor noises made by dropping / lifting role cards or tokens.
- Lift the cards and Marks, don’t slide them. They make noise sliding against the table and you can figure out which roles are in play if you can hear noises happening during their turns. Just try to be subtle.
- Move the cards around before everyone opens their eyes. Just reach forward and swish your card around a bit. Not everyone puts cards back in the same spot for some reason, so you want to make sure you can’t tell which cards got moved during the night.
After all that, the Day begins! Again, this is where players try to figure out both what happened and who is now a vampire. While honesty is generally agreed to be the best policy, nobody who said that was suspected of being a vampire, so, what do they know? You know what team you started on, so try to figure out what team you’re on now, and then either lie or tell the truth or debate someone or yell until you get your way or whatever. Whatever gets someone on the team you want killed killed, works. More on that in Strategy.
After time runs out, all players vote on a countdown from three (basically every player votes simultaneously), and whoever gets the most votes is killed (barring a tie, in which each player with the most votes dies). If a vampire is killed, the Village Team wins, if a villager is killed, the Vampire Team wins, and then all sorts of weird stuff happens with the Mark of Disease and the Mark of the Assassin! Hooray!
If you really want to go ham on this, you can also mix in Werewolves from the previous One Night series games in order to have an epic battle of Werewolves v. Vampires v. Villagers. If you do that, play normally, but Villagers only win if they kill a Werewolf and a Vampire. Werewolves and Vampires win if they live and a member of the other team dies. It’s complex.
How do you kill two? Well, you have handy tokens:
You give those to the players who got the most and the second-most votes during the night. Both players are eliminated, unless there are no members of the Vampire or Werewolf team. Then, you’re not having an Epic Battle, it’s just Village v. Vampire or Village v. Werewolf, so you kill just one player.
You may want to check the rules for more clarification, but generally, role cards are your primary explanation of who you are, but Marks will take precedence over a Role. For instance, if a Werewolf is Marked by the Vampires, they become a Werepire and wake with the Werewolves but win with the Vampires. Tough.
Player Count Differences
I think, as with most of the One Night series, the major differences in player count are just in how you scale the roles. If you’re not paying attention, then you might gradually scale up the player count, only to realize that you’ve added in four Vampire Team roles in a six-player game and now there’s usually a Vampire majority. That’s not good. I generally shy away from Copycat, and I mean, you shouldn’t have Apprentice Assassin in play without Assassin, but you do you. At smaller player counts, it is a bit easier to assume that very few players retain the new Marks that they might be given, just because the Priest will clear two players.
Either way, I’ve played this at four and enjoyed it, surprisingly, so no real preference on this one.
This is always pretty group-dependent, but I’m just gonna go for it. I’m not going to add any other One Night games in for cross-game synergy, mostly because if I do I’m going to get really confused. Also for other reasons that I’ll get into later.
- Adjust your strategy around the player counts. I’m much more likely to claim Cupid at a low player count than a high one, for instance, because I can claim that I was Cupid, gave myself and another player the Mark of Love, and then I woke up alone. It’s unverifiable, but useful!
- Remember that seeing certain Marks gives you information. If you see that another player has the Mark of the Vampire, then yes, they’re obviously a Vampire. But if they have the Mark of Fear, then you know that the Count is in the game.
- Share information selectively. If you see the Mark of the Traitor, for instance, don’t come out the gate swinging with that. It’ll incentivize them to give confusing information and make the game harder. Instead, wait for them to indicate who they think is a Vampire, and then do the reveal.
- If you ever have to guess someone’s Mark for a Marksman or Pickpocket claim, it’s safe to just say they have the Mark of Clarity. It’s super common, so they might just agree with you. Even better for you if you saw Mark of Disease or Mark of the Traitor. I’d probably reveal those later.
- More often than not, I find it’s easiest to just give the Mark to myself. If I’m the Assassin, I’ll just Mark myself and we’ll see how it goes. I definitely would recommend giving yourself the Mark of the Traitor.
- If you’ve got the Mark of the Vampire, a Pickpocket claim that you got rid of it is strong. Even stronger if you’re lying. Just make sure you don’t claim to have passed it to a Vampire and get them killed!
- Nobody can view the Center Roles (except for the Copycat) in this set. Use that to your advantage. Claiming roles that are in the center is always a good idea, but now you have potentially three roles that nobody can view, so it’s much harder to call you out.
- Don’t forget that players with their own win conditions can still win with other teams. We had a game where a Village Team member got killed, meaning Vampire Team (V + Master + Renfield) won, but so did the Assassin (player was Marked) and the Instigator (gave themselves the Mark of the Traitor). You can also have a situation in which the Assassin Marks himself, meaning he and the Apprentice Assassin win if he dies. How handy.
- In an Epic Battle, try to convince the Werewolves to focus on Vampires and the Vampires to focus on Werewolves. It’s basically just like Twilight probably. I honestly have no idea, but that sounds right.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Still plays very fast and is very portable. I’ve always liked that about the One Night series. The art’s also great, which I don’t think I’ve mentioned before.
- A whole new phase of variety. Adding the Marks gives a lot more options to change up your playstyle.
- I don’t really dislike any of the roles. The Diseased is going to be a pain to play with, but, honestly, still better than the Cursed. The rest of the roles have been super fun, from my experience. They do a good job demonstrating the flexibility of the set and challenging players to find creative solutions to prevent their death at the hands of the townspeople.
- I like the difference between Vampires and Werewolves. For instance, I think it’s nice that they can attempt to make someone else a Vampire rather than viewing a role card in the center (like a Lone Wolf).
- It feels like a fair number of roles are just “Here’s the Vampire Version of X role” from One Night Ultimate Werewolf + Daybreak, at times. Renfield is Minion, Marksman is just Seer (sort of), Pickpocket is Robber, and Gremlin is Troublemaker. That said, some are much more interesting (Assassin targing themselves >>> Tanner, for instance).
- The “Epic Battles” (Werewolves vs. Vampires vs. Villagers) are very tough to balance well. You basically need to be playing with 10+ people for them to work well, in my opinion.
- The Doppleganger is starting to get really unwieldy. Just wait until my Alien review.
- It would be nice to have a list of recommended setups. Dominion does this and does it for mixing previous sets with this set. It would be nice to see the same thing from the One Night series, as it’s expanding in scope.
- Lots more complexity. I would not recommend playing this with people as their first exposure to the series, as it’s got a lot more going on (extra phase, extra tokens, more time needed to swap tokens, etc). It’s also not a bad idea to extend the role timer for the first few games, so people have time to view / move everything.
- Not really super compatible as an expansion to ONUW. It’s more a spin-off game, if you ask me. The roles don’t mix in super well because you need to have Marks for everything but Gremlin and Copycat, basically, and then you’re just playing ONUV. I don’t think it’s a bad standalone, but you can’t mix it without adding in the fundamental complexity increase that comes with all those Marks.
Overall: 8 / 10
Overall, One Night Ultimate Vampire is a solid standalone game, but as an expansion it falls a bit short, for me (hence the score). I’d’ve liked to see roles that are interesting with and without Marks, but given that the set relies so heavily on Marks, that doesn’t seem to be the priority of the set. I think it’s really solid for veterans of the series, but it does add a significant bump in complexity to the game (I mean, just look at how long this review is). If that’s something you’re interested in, I’d highly recommend giving this a whirl! If not, you may want to look at games that are more expansion-y rather than standalone-y, like Daybreak (or Alien).