Reviewed By James Freeman
Designer Hiroki Kasawa
Artist Emily L. Ling
Publisher Ninja Star Games
You are a freelance journalist working in the city of Arkham. One day you hear about a mysterious ritual taking place in the underground cellar of the city’s prestigious Miskatonic University. You and your team decide to infiltrate and investigate the ritual anonymously, in the hope of securing the next exclusive. Without much thought you step into the cellar, but it doesn’t take long before you come to regret your decisions. The cellar is a shrine to ancient god and the horrifying ritual is tearing apart the minds of those who participate, causing them to go insane!
In the dark and musty cellar, worshipers are passing around artifacts. The light is dim so you can’t quite make out the artifacts you are passing around. However, further away in the distance you get a glimpse of what others are holding. You can see the effect these magical artifacts are having on their bearers. You will need to deduce what you’re holding by studying the other worshipers.
Preserve your sanity and escape from the ritual alive!
In Arkham Ritual, you don’t see the card you are holding. Instead, you see the cards other players are holding. You must guess the card you are holding by looking at other players’ cards and the cards that have already been played.
The game is played over multiple rounds where each round consists of multiple turns. During each turn, one player draws the top card of the deck, looks at it, and passes it to another player. The player who receives the card has a choice either to a) discard the card he / she is holding face up and take the new card without looking at it, or b) pass the card to another player without looking at it. After a player takes a turn, another player takes his / her turn.
The round continues until one of the round end conditions is met, at which point all players reveal their cards. At this time, if you are holding a cursed (red) card, then the card corrupts your mind and you lose your sanity. If you are holding a sane (blue) artifact card but some other players are also holding the same artifact card (regardless of their color), the artifacts create an unpleasant resonance, corrupts your mind, and you will lose your sanity. You successfully survive the ritual only if you are holding a unique sane (blue) card.
Players lose their sanity by discarding sanity markers. New rounds continue until one or more players have lost all their sanity markers. All players who still have sanity markers survive the ritual.
I really love the art in this game, it has a 50's detective pulp feel to it and the sanity tokens are nice and thick. There is a lot of deduction in this game in tying to figure out what cards remain and if someone has motivation for passing you a card. Are they trying to get an end condition to happen? are they trying to make me discard a good card? are they just psyching me out? You can really get in your own head at times (hence the sanity issue). It plays very fast once you get used to the end conditions for various cards.
I would say that this is a 5-7 player game for sure. I felt like the dummy hand play with 3-4 players fell a little flat.
Also, this is not a knock on the game but rather personal preference. I am not a fan of one person in the group (or a couple people) losing the game. So we tried a variant where the insane people stayed in the game and were just insane (side note- if you have friends that embrace this role it's pretty funny).
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