Full disclosure: A review copy of Revolver Noir was provided by Button Shy.
More Button Shy! I think I’m actually pretty close to through my current set of Button Shy games running around inside the house. I’ve got like, two more that I haven’t reviewed, maybe, out of a stack of 12 or 14? Wild times. I’ll have to get through the Similo games or the Railroad Ink Challenge expansions, next. Though those both sound like fun times. In the meantime, let’s talk about Revolver Noir!
In Revolver Noir, you’ve been sent to explore a mysterious house. And even though it’s surprisingly not haunted (a rarity for the board game space), you’re certainly not alone. You don’t know who they are, and you don’t know why they’re at the same house you’ve been sent to, but you’re sure of one thing: only one of you is going to walk away from this place tonight. You’re armed, but they’re dangerous. Who will survive the night?
Pretty much none. Deal each player a set of cards belonging to one character (same character backs), give them a Map Card, too. They can choose any of the locations on the cards to start in, putting that specific card at the front of their hand. Choose a start player randomly!
A game of Revolver Noir is a game of quick deduction, quicker wits, and the quickest shot. Both players spend their turns (and their action points) chasing each other and shooting to kill. Two shots and you’ve got them, but be careful! The same is true for you. Let’s go through a turn.
To start a turn, each player gets 2 Action Points to spend (3, if you start your turn in the Kitchen). They can then take any of the following actions:
Move (Costs 1 AP): You may move to one of the adjacent rooms indicated on your current room card. Bring your current room to the front of the stack of cards in your hand.
Shoot (Costs 2 AP): You may shoot into one of the rooms indicated on your current room card (usually includes your current room). After taking a Shoot Action, you must immediately move to an adjacent room. Bring your current room to the front of the stack of cards in your hand.
Listen (Costs 1 AP): If you choose this action, your opponent must reveal a room that they could move to next turn. Note that this may be the room they just came from last turn; they do not have to give you a different room every time you use the Listen Action as long as they tell you a true statement. That’s on you.
Set Trap (Costs 1 AP): If you choose this action, turn your current room card 90 degrees to indicate that you’ve placed a Trap in that room. You may only have two Traps in two different rooms, so if you want to place a third Trap, you must un-set a previous Trap (without detonating it).
Detonate Trap (Costs 1 AP): If you choose this action, choose one of your set Traps and announce the room it is in. If your opponent is in that room, they take 1 damage. Return that Room Card to its normal orientation.
Use Room Effect (Costs ? AP): Check out your Room Card and activate the effect on it, if one is present. They usually cost 0 – 1 AP, but the effect is card-dependent. Not all rooms have effects!
Players continue to take turns until one player has taken two damage. The other player wins!
Player Count Differences
None! This is a purely two-player game.
- I probably shouldn’t tell anyone I play against this, but I tend to try to be in the Kitchen as much as possible for that sweet AP bonus. Starting in the Kitchen means you get 3 AP on your turn, which can be pretty helpful. It effectively lets you either take a super-confusing movement turn; set a trap and still move confusingly; or just run into a room, start blasting, and then run into another room entirely. I think having the extra AP can be helpful, but the worst thing that you can do is be predictable. Expect some traps in the Kitchen, expect someone to pull the Library Switch and dump you into the basement, or just expect another player to try and take a shot at you from the Balcony. Anything can happen.
- The Library, Basement, and Bedroom are somewhat dangerous spots to be. It’s mostly that there aren’t a ton of movement options out of those rooms. They’re fairly limited, so be careful. The upper floors in particular are dangerous, because the Foyer ability can let your opponent know exactly which room you’re in. The Basement can just get flooded, which is also troubling.
- Sometimes, it’s best to just spend an entire turn moving so that your opponent loses track of you. Getting lost in the house is often wiser than taking a shot every turn, since the latter lets your opponent pretty easily track you. You don’t want to get hit. If you spend your turn moving twice, you can pretty easily be pretty much anywhere. Even more so if you don’t bother with room abilities. Again, those give away your position as you move. Sometimes it’s good enough just to be a shadow in the house.
- Remember the location you just were; it may come in handy. If you shot and then moved, keep in mind which location you just moved from. If your opponent uses a Listen Action, you can then tell them information they already know, rather than having to try and give them something new. Eventually, your opponent will get wise to that, but it’s a fun way to temporarily clown them.
- Don’t hesitate to double back, either! I do this a fair amount of the time! Don’t just always try going somewhere new. Doubling back can be a good way to confuse your opponent if they always expect you to be somewhere else (or to sneak back into the Kitchen for another 3 AP turn).
- Sometimes, a trap might be your best friend. Sometimes, especially if you’re playing against someone who keeps sticking it out in the same room. If you just pop a trap in there and they’re not expecting it, detonate it! That’ll teach them to keep loitering.
- More generally, room abilities can really help you out, especially in the Foyer (if you’re trying to narrow someone down to a location). The Room Abilities are great ways to smoke someone out (since a bunch of them punish specific locations), but the Foyer lets you specifically identify where someone is if they’re on the top floor, for free! That’s pretty useful. Keep an eye out for where those abilities can come in handy.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- This is actually a really good travel game, since you don’t need to set the cards down, ever. You play the entire game with your set of cards in hand, which I think works pretty well for a travel game. Especially one in a car or on a plane. You don’t even have to set anything down! You can set the map down (and we usually do), but you don’t necessarily need to if you don’t want to (or if you’ve got the map memorized).
- I love the cat-and-mouse chase and the deduction elements; they make for a very quick deduction game with stakes that feel high. This feels meaningfully different than the standard deduction games / logic puzzle games that I enjoy, which is fun. To analogize it poorly, it feels almost like two-shot Battleship, but the ships can move. I like the mechanical concept of that and I like how quick the game moves as players dance around each other. And then it’s over, with two shots. Super fun.
- It’s also a fun theme! It’s very noir, and I love noir-themed games. They just have a certain rainy edge to them that’s almost nostalgic, for me? I’m not sure why I like them so much. But I do, so, this is a delight.
- I like that the map is included as a helpful card. It’s a nice way to get rid of a room, granted, but it also is a super-helpful reference. I like how clear the (movement) connections between the rooms are.
- Giving many of the rooms special abilities is a nice touch. It keeps things interesting and makes certain rooms more interesting to hang out in, which drives player motion towards them. I like that there are multiple focal points within the house for players to tend to be. They’re useful spots to be, but you don’t want to hang out in any one spot. That creates a nice tension.
- Plays pretty quickly. Especially as players are moving faster and faster as they get more familiar with the rooms? It’s great. The fun parts, for me, are when the game slows down a bit, as players try to start thinking about where the other person is. That usually means that the game is about to get interesting or hilariously incorrect.
- Extremely portable, as any good Button Shy game hopes to be. All the wallet games are! I love that for them.
- I like the character art a lot, as well. It’s a small part of the game (the card backs), but it’s nice and intense and serious. Makes the game feel like it has stakes.
- I do get why the game is black / white / gray, but I think a colorful version of the game would have been fun, too. It’s noir! It kind of has to be black and white. I do get that. I just think a fun, colorful version of the game would have been exciting as well. I would kind of love a retheme of this that’s paintball-esque or laser tag in a different location with new effects so that I could see some fun colors, though I do love the artwork of this game.
- I do wish the map had line-of-sight indicators on it or some icon on the walls to indicate which rooms could shoot into other rooms at a glance. We didn’t realize the Balcony had a shot into the Kitchen until the second game, which makes sense (you can move to the Kitchen for 0 AP, so the Balcony can, implicitly, shoot into the Kitchen). Having something on the map to make that line-of-sight clearer would be a huge help.
Overall: 8.25 / 10
Overall, I really liked Revolver Noir! I think it’s catchy, fun, and some quick deduction, which I’m all about. It’s hard not to get into it as you play, yelping when a player shoots a room with you in it or haughtily confirming that their shot missed you entirely (as you cower from the room they’re currently in). I think the Room Effects add some fun variability to which rooms you’re in (or they tempt players to set up punishing and dangerous combos, which I respect). At times, the Action Point allotment feels a bit limited to make some of those big combos happen, which is a bit disappointing, but this just meant that we ended up going head-to-head rather than setting up traps or flooding the Basement every time. I’d actually really love to see how tweaks to the locations changes this game up, and I’d love to play Revolver Noir in a variety of different locales. I think that this game has a lot of potential to be a pretty fun Button Shy series, since I’m already hoping to play it again soon with some of my friends, once I see them. At the very least, I think it’ll be fun to try while traveling, though we may have to change some of the game’s language to not cause any stressful airplane experiences. If you’re looking for a quick and shooty deduction game, you like chasing your friends down, or you just want to go in guns blazing, you’ll probably enjoy Revolver Noir! I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
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