The Bloody Inn Review – Murder and Money Laundering
There are a lot of detective games out there – Deception, Chronicles of Crime, and even Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. There are fewer games out there, however, where you are the criminal looking to get away with murder. Enter The Bloody Inn.
I keep trying to think of the best way to intro this game, but I think it needs to speak for itself. Let’s jump right in.
What is The Bloody Inn?
Set in France in 1831, The Bloody Inn is a horror themed game that takes its cue from the likes of Sweeney Todd. Designed by Nicolas Robert, players take the roles of farmers who have invested in an Inn to get rich. They have learned that the best way to make money is to rob it off the guests, and the best way to rob that money…well…not every guest makes it out of the Inn alive.
The Bloody Inn is a 1-4 player game that lasts around 20 to 40 minutes depending on the player count. It contains engine building and hand management, and it includes a surprising amount of strategy. It also has an excellent solo mode that we will come onto in a bit.
The Bloody Inn is a dark and macabre game, but one that has a level of black comedy attached. It is the opposite to a murder mystery, as you know who did it, but the police don’t.
How Do You Play The Bloody Inn?
The Bloody Inn is played over a series of days and nights – and during each night the players may take two actions.
First though, a deck of guests must be prepared. Depending on the player count and length of a game you would like, depends on how many guests you have. You lay out the game board (which is an Inn corridor with rooms down either side), with a set number of blank rooms (using white keys), with one colour key per player (red, green, yellow, blue). This denotes the number of rooms belonging to that player. For instance, in a four player game there are 4 blank rooms, and 4 player rooms.
There is a tracker of up to 40 Francs on the board.
Each player gets given two peasants that form their hand, a 10 Franc cheque, and the board is set.
Each round, one player will fill up all the rooms with travellers taken from the top of the stack, choosing where they go. The traveller stack is always face up, so you will know in advance one of the guests you will be seeing the next day. Players then take it in turns taking one action. When they have they take a second action, and that is the end of the night.
The morning round then begins. At this point, players are judged by any police characters still alive in the inn, the travellers leave, and players need to pay wages for their accomplices.
There are six types of base guests in The Bloody Inn. Each guest in the game has a rank associated with them, and all but the peasants and police have an annex you can build with them for a long term effect.
- Red guests can help build annexes. These guests include the Mechanic, Distiller and Gardener.
- Blue guests can help you bribe accomplices. These guests include the Representative, Concierge, and Shopkeeper.
- Purple guests can help you bury bodies. These guests include the Monk, Abbot, and Bishop.
- Green guests give you more money. These guests include the Baron, Viscount, and Duke.
- Grey guests can help you kill guests. These include the Major, Brigadier, and Peacekeeper. Note that Grey guests are also the Police.
- Finally, there are peasants who are the most basic form of guest.
On your turn you can do one of five actions. These are done by discarding accomplices from your hand equal to the rank of the guest you are doing that action on. So, for instance, you can:
- Kill a guest – to do this you spend accomplices from your hand equal to the rank of the guest you want to kill. Any Grey guests return to your hand, the rest enter the discard pile. You take the guest you have killed, flip them over, and now you have a dead body on your hands.
- Build an annex – to build an annex you play an accomplice from your hand who has the annex you want to build on them. You spend accomplices from your hand equal to the rank of the guest you want to build the annex. Any Red guests return to your hand, the rest enter the discard pile. The annex remains in play before you, and can hide the number of bodies equal to the rank of the guest you are now using as an annex. Annexes also tend to have special abilities that last until the end of the game. That being said, some guests have one off bonuses.
- Bury a guest – to bury a guest you find a space in an annex around the board. You spend accomplices from your hand equal to the rank of the guest you want to bury. Any Purple guests return to your hand, the rest enter the discard pile. You then get the gold value of that guest on the Franc tracker on the board. Note that the Franc tracker has a hard stop at 40 Francs. Also note that you can bury a guest in an opponent’s annex, however, you split the money with them.
- Bribe a guest – when bribing a guest you turn them into an accomplice. You spend accomplices equal to the rank of the character you are trying to bribe, and return any Blue accomplices back to your hand. The bribed guest is now an accomplice.
Those are four of the actions. At this point I’m just going to note a specific rule that says that in the morning you pay wages. That is 1 Franc for every accomplice in your hand.
The fifth action is to visit the money launderer in town and trade money on the tracker into 10 Franc cheques. This means that, although you can only gain 40 Francs in cash in the Inn, you can gain more in Franc cheques. It’s a really neat mechanic.
In the Morning
In the morning you have to pay the police 10 Francs for every body you have left un-buried in your Inn, if there is a policeman staying there. You also get 1 Franc per guest still alive in your colour room at the end of the day.
Finally, the board resets. You pay 1 Franc per accomplice in your hand from the point tracker. If you can’t then they leave your service.
Once the guest deck has made its way through The Bloody Inn, you reset the stack using the discard pile (or Exit Pile). Once that has gone though again you end the game.
What is The Bloody Inn like to Play?
I have to admit, I am hugely impressed with The Bloody Inn as a game. It was actually on my Amazon wish list for two years before I finally got given it as a birthday gift. Since then it is a game I have played a lot of, mainly solo (although occasionally with more), and I have played it a lot because the mechanics just work.
At its core, The Bloody Inn isn’t really a game about crime. Yes, that is the theme – you bribe, you rob, you murder etc. – but it is not really what the game is about. Instead, The Bloody Inn is a game about building an engine. It is a game wherein you want to build the best annexes to get the best bonuses. You want certain accomplices in your hand at any one time, and you want to work out which guests to take based on what it means for you or opponents at the end of the round. For instance, you don’t want to leave police out if you have a body. What are you going to do? Will you bribe them, murder them, or bury your body?
The game changes slightly with solo play. If you ever have an unburied body in a round when the police are left in the inn then you lose. It’s that simple, but that adds an additional level of strategy to the game.
Around this engine building, which is quite simply superb, there is a fantastic economic system in the middle of the board. At any one time in the game, you can earn up to 40 Francs and have those in your hand, in the middle of the board – now this is important – this is the pool your wages come from when you pay your accomplices. You don’t want that to drop to the point where you can’t pay them or else they leave.
So what you do is you visit the money launderer. They let you trade in Francs from the board for cheques in 10 Franc chunks. So you can trade in 10, 20, 30, or 40 at any one time. This reduces the amount in your hand, but increases your potential for earning. Then, when you have 40 Francs again, any profit from your nefarious means will be wasted, meaning you want to visit the money launderer again.
Not only does this add another level of strategy, but it is such a unique way of adding additional challenge to the game. It is, effectively speaking, a points management system.
Now, there is something important to note. I really enjoy The Bloody Inn because very little changes between the solo game and the base game. It is all too common games massively change to allow for a player to play solo, but The Bloody Inn remains incredibly similar. This works to my favour as my partner doesn’t enjoy the game as much as I do.
When I asked her why she said a few things. Firstly, she isn’t a fan of the art. Secondly, she didn’t enjoy the restrictive nature of the game. Per night you can only do two actions, and that can be frustrating as you always want to do more.
Thus The Bloody Inn is a game you can get better at. You can plan more and figure out how to do more things; however, that may be at the expense of accomplices or money, passing you by before you have had a time to act. That being said, there is enough luck to keep you on your toes.
So, yes, I recommend The Bloody Inn. If you don’t mind the horror theme then there is a brilliant puzzle wrapped up in the box. I especially recommend it if you are solo board gamer as it is a brilliant little one person game.
And I’ve just realised what it reminds me of…do you remember Jonathan Creek?
TL;DR – The Good, The Bad, and The Concierge
Like with all games we can break The Bloody Inn down into its good, bad, and neutral points.
- The Bloody Inn is an interesting engine building game with a bit of a difference. Annexes give you ongoing abilities, and accomplices make it easier to achieve certain actions, meaning that if you like tableau building or engine building it is a fantastic game for you.
- The economic system in The Bloody Inn is challenging and fun, meaning you need to closely monitor your finances. This may not sound all that entertaining, but having a restrictive points system adds a whole new level to the game.
- The Bloody Inn solo mode keeps a lot of the fun of the multiplayer game, and at only around 20 minutes, and being easy to set up, makes it a compelling solo game on the market right now.
- The artwork is unique and interesting. It goes with the game, although it may not be to everyone’s taste.
- If you like to do all of the things on your turn The Bloody Inn may be slightly problematic. It doesn’t allow for you to do everything on your turn, but instead you have to specifically choose your actions.
- The player aid doubles up as your first annex in the game. Where it is possible to see why, as you need annexes to bury bodies, it is also a bit jarring. It can pull the players out of the game a bit as they realise all their rules references are a physical component in their player area/tableau.
Conclusion: The Bloody Inn Review
The Bloody Inn is a strange one to write about, but it is a really good game to play. As a solo game I cannot recommend it enough, and I think it has longevity for being a game that I personally will keep coming back to. The mechanics behind the game are well thought through and I really enjoy that.
So, what are your thoughts? Have you played The Bloody Inn? If so, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.