Plaid Hat Games
Paris. 1819. In secret workshops scattered around the city, stacks of bloodless extremities and human organs fuel a nightmarish contest. A creature that should not exist drives a group of amoral scientists to build it an unspeakable companion. And elsewhere, a grizzled old seas captain clutches the grip of his pistol. He has come to honor his promise made to a dying Victor Frankenstein, and he prays for courage.
Taking place after the events in Mary Shelley's classic novel, Abomination: The Heir Frankenstein
is a game of competitive monster creation. Race to construct a viable living being to satisfy the mad obsession of your benefactor. Research the newest scientific findings, charge your Leyden jars, and scavenge the local cemeteries for the raw materials needed to perfect your craft. Bribe, steal, exhume, and murder your way to victory, for the Creature is always watching, and it does not tolerate failure...Contents:
1 Paris Board
1 Event Board
8 Shock Dice
4 Laboratory Boards
4 Anatomy Cards
40 Large Cards
100 Mini Cards
1 Captain Meeple
1 First Player Creature Meeple
16 Scientist Meeples
12 Assistant Meeples
4 Ice Block Tokens
16 Leyden Jar Tokens
170 Material Cubes
30 Monster Part Tokens
28 Damage Markers
4 Player Score Markers
6 Bonus Objective Markers
1 Bribe and Bump Track
4 Event Markers
12 Police Markers
4 Player Reference Cards
24 Alive Markers
12 Plastic Connector Sets
Game Length: 90-120 minutes
Abomination: Heir of Frankenstein is a fun and family-UNfriendly game.
Abomination: Heir of Frankenstein is a fun game. It retails for $60 or more in most places, however. That's a little pricey for what you get, but I suspect that price will come down over time.
In Heir of Frankenstein, you play as a "scientist" of some kind being asked to make a pal for Frankenstein's Monster. Doctor Frankenstein is long dead and the Monster is lonely--and prone to brutal fits of rage. The Monster wants results. And Captain Walton (Doctor Frankenstein's confessor, for lack of a better term) is on his way to put a stop to the Monster's grotesque experiments.
Heir of Frankenstein is a worker placement kind of game. Each turn, players send out little wooden Scientist and Apprentice meeples to do their dirty work. Most of that work involves bringing dead bodies back to the lab for, um, cutting and pasting.
People who are looking for something to complain about will find PLENTY about the mechanics and story to be upset with. I am not a worker placement game fan, normally. Other than the excellent Lords of Waterdeep, I don't play those kinds of games very often.
Abomination is definitely an "adults only" kind of game, though I think teenagers might be attracted to it just because of that. There is nothing too, too gruesome about the game (in my opinion--yours may differ). You see small pictures of dead bodies in various stages of decay--some freshly executed, others long dead--and all the "bits and pieces" you collect are just little colored cubes, not anything depicting actual viscera and tissue. Your creature is lots of raw muscle at first (like the old-school "Visible Man") but becomes a skin-covered thing pretty soon--if you're playing correctly.
My girlfriend and I took the game for a spin recently. She initially balked at the subject matter, but then she got into the mechanics of the game very quickly.
And it helped our mutual learning curve that the game is quite a bit like the Lords of Waterdeep game (one we both enjoy greatly). And the game's story had a lot of elements from the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, as well as some of the modern-era Frankenstein movies.
The part most people will complain about in Heir of Frankenstein is the Dark Alley location, where you go "murder" random people for the freshest body parts. There is a significant Humanity cost for that, however. Though if you just hire someone to kill random people, the Humanity cost is FAR less.
Each playable character has a little backstory and a special ability or two. They do their best to be politically correct about having lots of different ethnicities and plenty of female characters.
I think they included the Church location to appease religious folks who might object to grave robbing and such. Though how the Church really functions in the game would likely make those religious folks unhappy. You pretty much go there to raise your Humanity in calculated fashion (after doing bad, bad things) and/or to mess with the other players. My girlfriend used two cards from the Church to shave two turns off the game, for example. We played until Captain Walton reached the end of the track (and ended the game), but she advanced the Captain twice during the main game--outside of his normal progression.
My girlfriend and I maxed out our Reputation and Expertise dials in our game. And I won because I also maxed out my Humanity dial. So I won the game based on having not much accomplished in the creature assembly portion of the game, but having maxed out all my dials in a positive way. So it's possible to do pretty well without focusing too much on the creature assembly portion of the game--especially if no one actually finishes their creature. There are also little random bonus objectives to get 10 points each for in the game. Some of them are only awarded at the end of the game, but others are given for the "first to get" some goal.
One of the things that makes the game more playable than it would be otherwise is the "bribe and bump" feature. Like in Lords of Waterdeep, once you put a worker on a location, no one else can. What you can do in Heir of Frankenstein is bribe your way in. There is a "bribe and bump" space at the bottom of the board (for three and four player games, there are more spaces). So each round--in a two-player game--you can pay the other player one coin to bump them off a space and take it for yourself. Or, if you want a location's effect twice, you can bump yourself off of that space for free. And the "bumped" worker hangs out in the "bribe and bump" space at the bottom of the board. They don't get to act again.
Buying ice to keep your unused corpse parts fresh is important. I bought ice consistently. That helped in the sense of keeping my harvested corpse bits fresh. But since you can only hold 15 or less bits for each stage of decay, it sometimes slowed me down as well. Why? Because if I got a ton of new bits that were all from the same stage of decay, I couldn't keep them all.
There was one turn where a winter storm event card gave us all the "ice" effect for a turn. That was helpful. But another event card had the Monster destroy one of my body parts I had created, because he was unhappy at my lack of significant progress. He is a temperamental Monster.
One of the things they borrowed from Lords of Waterdeep is the "fixed first player" feature. I don't think that works as well as it should. You can take the first player token away from someone. But that's a waste of resources. They mitigate it by allowing that worker you used to get the first player token to "reassign" (like from Waterdeep Harbor in Lords of Waterdeep) at the end of the round. For the theatrics and thematics of the game, having the creature "help" each scientist by passing first player to a different player at the start of each round might work better. But that's only a small criticism.
Another criticism I have is with the player/laboratory boards. They are cardstock, not cardboard. And affixing the indicators for the Humanity, Reputation, and Expertise dials to those cardstock sheets makes them more difficult to store in the box properly.
As another minor criticism, I'd say the game starts off pretty slowly. But that may have been more about us being new players than the game itself. You can't get a lot done in the game until your Reputation and Expertise go up. Yet if you're willing to cut corners, by using animal parts or really decayed corpses to construct the basics of your creature, you might start out the game more quickly--but you'll also earn far fewer points for those parts you create.
Overall, I would recommend this game for adult gamer groups who enjoyed Lords of Waterdeep (or other worker placement games) and don't mind a (heavy-ish) dose of the macabre in their gaming. And it makes a great game for Halloween!