Dark Deeds is a darkly humorous card game of skulduggery and suspicion for 2 to 5 players. Players take the role of minions in service to a powerful, mysterious and clearly villainous patron. The patron, known as The Grand Master, wants deeds of infamy, violence and coercion committed and you must avoid the authorities, the do-gooders and, most of all, each other to perform them. Rich rewards beckon, along with horrific punishments for failure.
In Dark Deeds you will find out if you are the kind of malevolent minion the patron needs, obviously team players need not apply…
Darkly and Humorously crafted by…
Master Game Designs!!
Dark Deeds is the creation of Andy Chambers, Mark Gibbons & Ryan Miller. Andy Chambers is best known for his work in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. From 1990 to 2004 he worked at Games Workshop as lead designer for three editions of the Warhammer 40,000 miniatures game. Mark Gibbons as an artist has worked with Andy at Games Workshop and Blizzard entertainment on Starcraft, while Ryan Miller has been in the gaming industry for 16 years, mostly as a game designer at Wizards of the Coast. He was the lead designer for Duel Masters and Kaijudo, as well as working on several Magic: the Gathering releases.
Dark Deeds is comprised of two decks of cards (the Street and Tavern decks), a rubber play mat to represent the street (where potential victims will be found), dyed wooden suspicion tokens, a hessian dice bag, a metal most suspicious person token and a two-tone blood coloured D12 die.
How is Dark Deeds played?? With Humour and a little bit of Viciousness!!
At the start of Dark Deeds each player begins by drawing three cards from the Tavern deck, which is made up of 3 different types of Loot Cards, Plot Cards, and the titular Dark Deeds!
The Cleric loot cards will either give you extra strength or cunning, if you successfully rob a cleric on the street. The Artisan loot cards give you weapons that increase your strength and Merchant cards will give you cunning bonuses, especially against guards. Plot cards enable you to implicate the other players, steal, or even cheat to get ahead, after all this is the expected behaviour that The Grand Master is looking for.
Lastly in the Tavern Deck there are the Dark Deed cards. While random acts of mayhem and violence are pleasing to the patron, these are the specific targets that he wants attacked. Taking on a Dark Deed and succeeding will earn you The Grand Master’s approval, in other words, bonus victory points.
All kinds of people wander down the street. As a sharp-eyed minion, the patron expects you to choose worthwhile targets from among them. Six Street cards are laid down on the street to start the game, the last three are face down and do not feature in the game, and at the end of each player’s turn the people wander further down the street with the last card moving off the street and potentially to a player to cause problems. As with the Tavern deck there are 5 different card types, 3 ordinary citizens (the Clerics, Artisans, and Merchants) and then there is the Guards and finally the Nemeses.
On your turn you can either; choose one of the two face up cards from the tavern or discard them and draw a blind card from the Tavern Deck (so no-one can see what you are adding to your hand). Of course your decision will always be based on who is strolling down the street and what cards you have in your hand.
How to Rob Citizens and don’t forget! Be Sneaky, Sneaky with the Guards!!!
So how does this game work ? Let’s say you see a citizen on the street, perhaps a Cleric, no less than The Nosticant even, strolling down, totally oblivious to his predicament. His level is how hard it is to rob him, in this case it is level two. You roll the D12, and if you roll higher than the level, a 6 in this case, then you have successfully robbed him and that dice roll minus the citizen’s level, in this case 4, allows you to buy a cleric loot card of that value or lower from your hand. Next you put the Nosticant in your facedown victory points pile, the points being indicated on the bottom right of the card. You also collect suspicion tokens equal to that value, and if you are now the most suspicious minion, you gain the metal token. Lastly the Cleric loot card you have purchased goes face down in front of you, ready to be used in future Dark Deeds. The Merchants and the Artisans work the same way.
Unfortunately the Guards are your main obstacles to preying on the street. If you want to rob a citizen you will have to sneak past the guard to do so. Guards have two levels, their Strength level is how hard it is defeat them in combat, and their Perception level is the difficulty level to sneak past them. If a Guard walks off the end of the street (because he has reached the 6th slot) then the Guard will start chasing the most suspicious minion. The Guard goes face up in front of that player, meaning that the most suspicious minion will now have to sneak past them to get onto the street.
How Dark Deeds remains Balanced; and Facing your Nemesis!!
Finally there are Nemeses, individuals that pose a particular threat to The Grand Master’s plans. Your patron wants them assassinated and will richly reward you in victory points for doing so. In conjunction with the Dark Deed cards, succeeding in assassinating a Nemesis can be very rewarding, so timing is everything. Nemeses are pretty difficult to take down, and it is normally best to do so when you have some Loot in front of you to tackle these more difficult cards. The Patron will not look kindly on failed or unachieved Dark Deeds, and any cards remaining in your hand at the end of the game will lose you victory points.
When a Nemesis card leaves the end of the street, they go face up in front of the current player, becoming their specific Nemesis. If that player doesn’t assassinate them by the end of the game, then they become negative victory points. If that player also has a guard in front of them, then they must also sneak past that guard to take down the Nemesis.
This game avoids any one player getting too ahead by arresting any player who attacks too many targets and arouses too much suspicion. If a player has ten or more suspicion tokens, then that player is arrested and loses all of the loot cards in front of them, but also all suspicion tokens and any guards chasing them.
Luckily there is also an option to lay low on your turn, where you discard a loot card and can then remove suspicion tokens up to its value.
As the sun sinks below the gilded towers of Anthrand, the street empties out and there is left only the reckoning of who can report success or miserable failure. When the last card leaves the street that means it’s time to tally up the score.
Dark Deeds!! The Verdict and what value you put on a Game??
Dark Deeds is a game rich in theme. Any game that can lend itself to a bit of roleplaying goes up a level in my opinion and Dark Deeds does so without much prompting. The old Baldrick line, “I have a cunning plan!!” comes to mind, as well as finding yourself muttering, “let’s see what the Grand Master has left for me in Tavern, shall we?”. You feel as if you are going to the Tavern, for a drop of ale or mead, and to find out if the Patron has left a Dark Deed for you to perform, or if there are rumours of who is carrying what loot on the street today, all while being careful not to let slip precious information that rival minions could use to their benefit.
The artwork on the cards is in keeping with the theme and properly represents the dark underworld. It is beautifully done, dark, brooding and humorous at the same time. I particularly liked the grubby. soiled look on the back of the Tavern cards, which also adds to the theme.
At this time in the review I should bring up the production values of this game, they are through the roof, the components feel as if a tremendous amount of love and attention to detail has gone into their production. I feel that if I was living on top of a six storey building and someone wanted to borrow Dark Deeds, I could just throw it out of the window. If they caught the game then fair enough, if not then there might be a few scuffs on the outer box, but everything inside would still be intact.
Three players is the sweet spot for Dark Deeds. There are more chances to do your Dark Deeds and a more balanced amount of player interaction. A two player game is the most tactical, with the longest playing time, while a four and five player game are much shorter, where anything can and will happen, including lots of backstabbing, so it should be played with the same mindset as a casual party game. There are optional rules to make the game longer, but personally I would only do this with a five player game.
All in all I have enjoyed every game of Dark Deeds I have played, and it has been a hit with my group, and there is plenty of replay-ability with this game. The only drawback is the price, but having said that, as a quality game this could easily be regarded as an investment. I have invested money in card games half this price and lost interest in less than half the time. Dark Deeds is one of the few games that draws you in and never lets you go, so how much do you put a price on that ?
I can sum it up in one word – priceless!!
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Paul Matthews is a Sales Manager for Gamesquest Ltd, as well as a part-time Board game Demonstrator and Blogger. After several years playing Yu-gi-oh at Tournament level, his latest passion is all things board gaming. Besides playing board games, Paul is a part time author and enjoys reading and archery. Paul has a Degree in Humanities Psychology/Counselling and several Life-skill Degrees in Parenting, Horse Management and Ecommerce.