board games, stranger things

Asmodee and Netflix recently announced a partnership to release new games based on very popular Netflix series, starting with three of the streaming service’s biggest titles: Stranger Things, Ozark, and Squid Game. As a big fan of the first of those three, and someone who’ll spend the next 11 months arguing that the “Master of Puppets” scene should win all the Emmys in 2023, I should be in the target audience for the Stranger Things: Attack of the Mind Flayer social deduction game. It feels a little undercooked, though, even though it’s largely a retheme of an independently published game from 2019 called Growl.

This is a very basic social deduction game, meaning a game where players have some sort of secret identity and try to win either individually or as a team without revealing the truth, whether it’s a team affiliation or your hand cards or something else. Coup, Love Letter, and One Night Ultimate Werewolf are all great, easy-to-learn, quick-playing social deduction games that also seem to have informed the development of this title.

The Stranger Things game probably draws the most from the One Night Ultimate Werewolf series, which itself derives from the 1980s game known as Werewolf and rethemed as Mafia, where players are split at the start of each game into two teams, such as werewolves and humans. Here, at least one player is already possessed by the Mind Flayer at the start of the game, while all other players are “Sane.” Each player then begins the game with a hand of three cards from the adventure deck, which has three Meeting cards mixed in at the one-third, two-thirds, and final spots, which will lead to some common actions across multiple players.

board games, stranger things

On a turn, the active player turns over the top card of the deck and decides to give it to any other player at the table. There are five main card types in the deck, one of which, the Waffle, is useless—more on that later. There are Mind Flayer cards, and their converse, the Memories cards; there are Hard Hit cards, and their converse, the Helping Hands cards. If you’re Sane, and if, at any time in the game, your hand contains three more Mind Flayer cards than Memories cards, you become Possessed, switching teams but not telling any other players. If you have three more Hard Hit cards in your hand than Helping Hand cards, regardless of your side, you’re knocked out of the game—but you can still end up on the winning side. You just don’t get to play any more until the round or game ends.

One of the major flaws in the Stranger Things game is that you have so few opportunities to get rid of cards. After each of the three Meeting cards is revealed, every player takes two cards from their hand, passing one to their left and one to their right, although Sane players can’t pass Mind Flayer cards. I understand the point of this is to reveal Possessed players when they do pass one of those, but it also means Sane players are in a very tough spot, at the mercy of teammates when one of the few Memories cards in the deck (there are far fewer than there are Mind Flayer cards) appears. Once you’re Possessed, there’s no going back, which I don’t think is entirely true to the story in the TV show anyway, so the game is kind of skewed towards the Possessed. Without other opportunities to get rid of cards, though, if you’re Sane, you don’t have much say in your own fate.

A round ends either after the third Meeting card or if there are just one or two players still active. If the game ends with one Sane player remaining, the Sane team wins. Otherwise the Possessed team wins. You can play a single round, or play three straight, in which case the Waffle cards matter. You get one point if you’re on the winning team in one round, and you get a point for every Waffle card in your hand at the end of a round. The original version of this game, Growl, required that you play the three rounds, so the inutility of the Waffle cards wasn’t an issue.

Stranger Things: Attack of the Mind Flayer can handle four to 10 players, shrinking the deck size if you have fewer people at the table and adjusting the number of players who start the game Possessed. It takes 20-30 minutes to play, but can also leave some players with nothing to do for a long period of time after they’re knocked out. There’s just nothing in here that I haven’t seen done better in another social deduction game, including the three I mentioned up top. A good Stranger Things game should have you running up that hill, but instead this game is barking up the wrong tree.


Keith Law is the author of The Inside Game and Smart Baseball and a senior baseball writer for The Athletic. You can find his personal blog the dish, covering games, literature, and more, at meadowparty.com/blog.

TECH NEWS RELATED

How to join and win a Versus Battle in Fortnite

Image via Epic Games Fortnite’s Dragon Ball collaboration features a wealth of new challenges, items, skins, and mechanics based on the popular anime/manga series. In the spirit of the series and its competitive characters, you can challenge other players to Versus Battles during the limited-time event, which you’ll need ...

View more: How to join and win a Versus Battle in Fortnite

Who are the Dog Days of Summer featured program bosses in MLB The Show 22?

Screenshot by Gamepur The MLB The Show 22 Field of Dreams featured program is the shortest one yet, as it will only last 10 days before sunsetting. Right ahead of it is the Dog Days of Summer featured program, one that will feature a special 98 OVR player item, ...

View more: Who are the Dog Days of Summer featured program bosses in MLB The Show 22?

Where to get Hazelnuts in Tower of Fantasy

Screenshot by Gamepur Some ingredients in Tower of Fantasy are rather easy to find. You can search an area and come across hundreds of the same item. There are also ingredients that you may never find thanks to how rare they are. Hazelnuts are one of those rare ingredients ...

View more: Where to get Hazelnuts in Tower of Fantasy

How to unlock abandoned trucks in Tower of Fantasy

Screenshot by Gamepur As you make your way across the lands of Tower of Fantasy, you will come across a ton of different plants, NPCs, and objects that you can interact with. During your journey, you may come across abandoned trucks that are often guarded by enemies. These trucks ...

View more: How to unlock abandoned trucks in Tower of Fantasy

Rollerdrome full achievements and trophies list

Image via Roll7 Rollerdrome is an action-focused shooter developed by Roll7, the same studio behind OlliOlli. Rollerblade takes place in the not-too-distant future and centers on shooting while rollerblading across a variety of levels. The game receives praise for its solid presentation, but some of the trophies and achievements ...

View more: Rollerdrome full achievements and trophies list

Is the Monthly Pass Supplies worth it in Tower of Fantasy? Answered

Image via Hotta Studio Gacha games like Tower of Fantasy rely on their players to continuously come back to the game and purchase various things with real-world money. Just like many other popular mobile and online games, there is no shortage of items in the in-game store that players ...

View more: Is the Monthly Pass Supplies worth it in Tower of Fantasy? Answered

How to get Hearts of Summit in Tower of Fantasy

Screenshot by Gamepur There is no denying that Tower of Fantasy has a lot of different upgrade materials. You have materials to upgrade your vehicles, armor, and weapons. On top of that, you also have materials to augment those weapons. Hearts of Summit are one of the materials required ...

View more: How to get Hearts of Summit in Tower of Fantasy

Pokémon World Championships will drop an exclusive Pokémon Go Timed Research in Twitch chat

Image via Niantic The Pokémon World Championships return this week on August 18, and players worldwide will meet in London to compete in some of the most significant Pokémon battles. These battles will crown championship titles for players in Pokémon TCG, Pokémon Sword and Shield, Pokémon Unite, Pokkén Tournament, ...

View more: Pokémon World Championships will drop an exclusive Pokémon Go Timed Research in Twitch chat

Leaked MultiVersus voice lines hint at Beetlejuice and the Wicked Witch character additions

Call of Duty: Warzone team accused of plagiarism again, allegedly ripping off former developer

How to unlock and access Omnium Beacon in Tower of Fantasy

MultiVersus’ self-damaging Wonder Woman attack will be patched, Morty’s move set datamined

Bloody Hell Hotel debut trailer is giving the internet horror Stardew Valley vibes

Elden Ring fan builds incredible diorama of Flying Dragon Agheel

Guild Wars 2 anniversary celebration will bring Steam support, Twitch Drops, and more

Get early access to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s campaign with a digital preorder

Crusader Kings 3, Pillars of Eternity publisher Paradox launches new indie label

Rollerdrome stressed me to my breaking point in spite of its quality – Review

Which SSR Relic should you choose first in Tower of Fantasy?

Diablo 2 player completes pacifist Hell run previously only theorized to be possible

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News