Tag Archives: Blood on the Clocktower

Compare and Contrast: Ultimate Werewolf and Blood on the Clocktower

Ultimate Werewolf and Blood on the Clocktower (BOTC) are two social deduction games that we have played over the last semester that share quite a bit in common mechanically. However, both have distinct differences that set them apart in many ways. Both games utilize a day and night cycle in which two teams attempt to meet the necessary criteria to bring their team to victory. For Ultimate Werewolf, the townsfolk try to catch and kill the werewolves before they can kill the whole town. Similarly, BOTC has the town attempting to catch a demon and its minions before they can murder the whole town. During the day, the town votes to execute one person in an attempt to kill a member of the evil team. During the night cycle of both games, the werewolf/demon faction chooses one townsperson to kill. Each game utilizes unique hidden roles to give players an edge for their team.

            While these two games are both similar, each presents itself differently and provides unique experiences for its players. For example, while both Ultimate Werewolf and BOTC use hidden roles, BOTC makes sure that each role is unique and has an ability of its own. In Ultimate Werewolf, many of the players are simply townspeople with no addition abilites. I see this as both a positive and a negative. For one, I believe the lack of an ability could make the game less exciting for players. However, I also think this requires players to then utilize other skills in the game to make up for that. On the flip side, everyone having an ability makes things very interesting in BOTC. This is especially the case because of how BOTC works. What roles are in play is unknown, unlike in Werewolf. It is harder to tell if someone is lying about their role. Not even to mention that the demon gets to see what roles are not in use. Another difference between Ultimate Werewolf and Blood on the Clocktower is that BOTC relies on private conversations before each day’s execution. This feature I really enjoyed. It allowed you to secretly communicate and construct alliances way better than you could in Ultimate Werewolf. For Werewolf, you are largely limited to communicating with those near you, if not to the entire group at large. Another difference that I was particularly fond of in BOTC was how death was handled in the game. Unlike in Ultimate Werewolf, you don’t just sit around once you die. You can still communicate and participate just as you had when you were alive. The only caveat was that you could no longer use your ability. Additionally, you were allowed to vote one more time during the course of the game. A vote beyond the grave. One thing that I also felt made a distinct difference between these two games was the hidden special mechanics that BOTC had (the red herring and the drunk). Both added some nuance and intrigue to roles, making it harder for the townsfolk to win. Ultimate Werewolf does not have special conditions like this. Finally, the biggest difference I noticed in the games was the role of the Gamemaster. While Ultimate Werewolf largely only had the gamemaster playing a passive role, the gamemaster of BOTC was an active participant in the story of the game. They’re role is to make the game as interesting as possible and to try to get it to come down to the wire in the last few rounds. I really liked this, as it made the game feel more alive.

            Overall, I really like both games. The social deduction genre has been a favorite of mine for years, and while my experience with these specific iterations has been limited, I found myself enjoying them both while playing with the class. I like the differing roles, especially those of BOTC. Each time you play will result in a vastly different experience from the last. I feel like this game is good for large groups of people. I did find Werewolf easier to pick up, but that is largely because there are some more complex mechanics in BOTC. From what I have seen, the the game is evenly balanced from round to round, with one side never really being too far above the opposing team just by default. Additionally, I really enjoy games where I can act both cooperatively and competitively. Working as a team in a game is just so satisfying.

I didn’t find many negatives in either game, though I did feel that BOTC had more replayability compared to Ultimate Werewolf. It expanded on and filled in any of the gaps that I felt Werewolf had. Not only did every player get a unique ability with their role, but the game felt a lot more secretive and strategic. Every person had a role to play. I also really liked the role of the GM and dead players. The GM felt more like an active participant who had an effect on the outcome of the game as opposed  to just a neutral party who facilitated it. Additionally, players were still important throughout the game, even after dying. This meant that unlike Ultimate Werewolf, there was still an incentive to remain tuned in to the game. While this didn’t have much of an effect on our gameplay, I also thought I should add that BOTC has additional role sheets to spice things up if it began to feel stale. Overall, both games were a lot of fun – but for me BOTC simply did it better.

GOTW: Blood on the Clocktower

This week we played a game called Blood on the Clocktower. It is a social deduction game that is very similar to a previous game we played called Ultimate Werewolf. It is a hidden roles game where individuals are given a token by the storyteller (the one controlling the game flow) at the beginning of the game. There are two sides: the townspeople and the Demon. The townspeople are trying to survive the night while also attempting to find and kill the Demon and their minions during the day. The Demon attempts to stay hidden while slowly killing off all of the townspeople. Each role has a specific ability that can either come into effect once a round, or once throughout the game. The game ends either when the Demon is killed, or when the Demon kills all of the townspeople. During the day, everyone could talk to each other either privately or in groups in an attempt to share and spread information. One part of the game that I particularly liked was the role of the storyteller. Their role is to make a good story, thus meaning they aren’t taking any sides and simply want the game to end as dramatically as possible.

           For the round we played in class, I got the role of Mayor. The mayor’s ability makes it so that if they are attacked at night, there is a chance someone else dies in their place. There is a second ability of the mayor that does not really come into effect until the latter end of the game. It states that if there are three people at the end of the day cycle, and no execution is made, then the townspeople win. In the beginning, I did not move around much since I did not have any information. I mostly just stuck with the group that sat near me. I spent most of the game this way, as the individuals around me one by one claimed their roles. Near the beginning of the game, we almost immediately were able to take out the poisoner due to the Ravenkeeper dying. The washerwoman revealed himself and corroborated the information. With a bit of assistance from the cook, we took out the demon during the second day. Unfortunately for the townspeople, there was a scarlet woman in play, so the game did not end there. Throughout this time individuals would exchange information and talk to one another, seeking to form trust. I shared my role with the washerwoman, in an attempt to create trust. I did not want to share my role too early, knowing it could result in me being targeted early on. Looking back, however, that might have been a better idea. With a little bit more digging, and a couple more deaths, the townspeople successfully took out the Baron that was in play. I ended up being executed when the fortune teller pinged that I could potentially be the demon. This was because I had the status of being a Red Herring. The game ended up coming down to the wire, with the final execution occurring when only three players remained. It was during this vote that I used my ghost vote (the single final vote someone has once they die). The townspeople won once the scarlet lady was executed.

            The hardest part of the game was knowing who to trust and defending myself with a role that was hard to prove. It was hard to know who to trust as you did not know who could be telling the truth. Not all the roles were in play, so people could bluff which role they were. However, I also found it really hard to defend my role in particular because the mayor’s ability neither provides information nor can be controlled. I felt largely like I had to rely on connections I made with individuals who were proven to be the role they claimed to be. Even then, I still ended up being executed. Despite these difficulties, I still really enjoyed the game. I really like games like Blood on the Clocktower. I used to play Town of Salem (a similar online version) all the time with my friends. I would recommend this game to anyone. It is a great game to play when you are at a party or have a lot of people over. I do not necessarily think you have to know everyone to have a good time. If anything, it is a good icebreaker. I feel like I could play this game with a good variety of people.

            I saw leadership in a couple of ways while playing Blood on the Clocktower. The first way was how people would often take the initiative to engage others in conversations. Be it to get information or to solidify their own role, they were taking action to make connections and find answers. A second way I saw leadership was during voting. Many people took strong stances and stepped forward with the evidence they had. They used this information to sway the group one way or the other for a vote. While a little bit obvious, I also believe that the role of the storyteller itself was a leadership role, as the storyteller controls the game cycle while also providing information to players based on their roles. One person I felt showed a lot of leadership skills was Alyssa. I felt like her role in the game resulted in a lot more chaos, and yet she also seemed to be the most outspoken player. I thought it was very neat how she played. All in all, I had a really good time playing, and I certainly wouldn’t mind playing it again if given the chance.