Here’s an overview of this 2-6 player game that feels like a Victorian novel come to life:
You play as a middle-class Victorian woman who would kill to be a duchess. Since you were not lucky enough to be born into the aristocracy, the only way to attract a noble is to have a large enough dowry. Fortunately, when your parents died, they left you with a small dowry and some land. You must build wealth through investments and strategic serial marriages.
Gameplay is divided into rounds; each round consists of four separate phases: drafting, investment, husband, and housekeeping. In each round, each player drafts a hand of cards, pick-and-pass style. Certain cards are played into players’ tableaus. Instant cards are used and discarded. Players using death cards partially reset their tableau and get income. Players discard down to eight cards in hand, then draft four new cards.
The game ends when one player has no current husband, no more than 9 infamy, spends 120 crowns, and plays a remarry card to marry the Duke. That player wins.
While Deadly Dowagers is Shipp’s first published design, she’s been blogging about “board game design theory from a fine arts perspective” since 2019 on her ShippBoard Games blog and has lots of interesting work on there. She was also a guest on the Meeple Syrup Show in February 2023 where she talked about “how to start a thematic design”. Expect to see much more from her in the years ahead…
Cold Case: End of the Line asks you to put yourself in the past to solve a crime today:
• In January 2023 Hasbro relaunched ye olde Clue, giving all the player roles backstories that interact with one Boden “Boddy” Black, who apparently was blackmailing everyone, thereby giving them a reason to want him dead.
Gameplay seems unchanged, but now you have a bit more personality in the player tokens, which are now miniatures instead of identical pawns.
• And this game continues to be released in new licensed versions because you can find murders everywhere, including in the Hidden Leaf Village, home of one Naruto Uzumaki. In March 2023, The Op released Clue: Naruto Shippuden, which features familiar gameplay and special action cards on a somewhat different game board.