Alfie Dix, 17, reviews board games that he plays with the family and subsequently with groups of friends. Here’s his review of Dead & Breakfast.
Enjoy your stay? Unlikely! If only hospitality was a concern in this game of monsters and managers. In the twisted realm of zombies, spirits and ghosts you create your very own bed and breakfast by placing tiles and inviting guests. In Dead & Breakfast, a 2-4 player game, each person takes turns selecting a tile which represents part of the building. Tiles, which are either 2×1 or 1×2 – (this is important as each tile must retain its orientation) – are placed anywhere in the 5×5 area around their entrance, a 1×1 square that must always remain as the centre bottom tile. Whenever a row (or floor) of the building is completed you may take a guest and place it in any available room. This guest will score points if it is on the same row or column as the monster it is afraid of.
Players also score points through bonus tiles and by connecting the flowers that appear on tiles to your entrance via vines. The vines on each tile are configured differently, so not every flower you place will connect to the doorway. Additionally only flowers that match the specific colours you are looking for will score a point. Due to the fact that there are 6 different monsters, various vine positionings and that flower combinations vary from tile to tile there is an absurdly large pool of possible tiles and means that each game can have different decision points giving it decent replayability.
“Tiles Galore” would certainly be an apt description of what to expect when opening this game as there are no punchboards and even the scoretrack has been inbuilt into the box to be ecological. This technique certainly saves space and means that there’s little risk of damaged goods.
The artwork is lovely – with each monster having several different guises and the overall aesthetic is fitting of a spooky brick house with vines and flowers taking over the property. The production quality is very high.
The game provides a good number of decision points, so it’s useful to formulate a strategy, which will help you prioritise which tiles you wish to take each turn. The use of the guest tiles rewards you for achieving certain patterns – the number of monsters of a certain type on the row or column of the guest, for example. Similarly, the bonus tiles will give you points for fulfilling specific objectives. So you’ll need to plan out your moves in advance to maximise your scoring opportunities. Tile placement will get tricky if you aren’t thinking ahead far enough.
I do have a couple of niggles with the game though…
3-player games feel a little unfair, as two players are both able to score from flowers that no other player is trying to take, while the third has to share both of their flower colours with the other players. This feels like a problem that could have been quite easily solved by printing different entrances (showing the colour of scoring flowers) on the reverse side of the entrance tiles. You could, of course, ‘house rule’ this in.
The other slight annoyance is that it is hard to strategise. Each turn you have three tiles to choose from, but it’s hard to know which tiles will be available to you on your turn ahead of time. It’s a game that rewards quick thinking tactics, rather than carefully planned strategy.
Despite these criticisms, Dead & Breakfast is still a solid tile placement game. The rules are clear and make the game really quick and easy to teach. The tiles provide plenty of choice and it’s fun to create a monstruous B&B with a load of spooky guests. This would be a good pick for a family who’d like to try a new tile placement game.