Thursday, 28 November 2013

We play Nuns on the Run

Nuns on the Run - what an awesome title for a game! I bought this after watching the review on Dice Tower, as I felt it met a number of key criteria I'm looking for from board games at the moment. These boil down as follows:
  • They can be played inside a couple of hours.
  • They have simple rules which are not too involved, and can be taught to kids
  • There is not too much warfare / combat in them - this a specific request from my daughter who feels too many of my games involve fighting!
Nuns on the Run meets all of these criteria. If I had any concern, I would say the slightly complex line of sight rules preclude it from being played by anyone under the age of eight, although it is probably possible for a young player of 7-8 to play the nuns, of which more later.

The game is set in a convent, at night. Most of the players take the roles of novices who must creep around looking for keys which they need to access their Secret Wish. These are items located in locked rooms in the convent which they must retrieve and return with to their cells (e.g. the Abbess' birthday cake is locked in the kitchen). The first player to return to their cell wins, UNLESS the patrolling nuns catch a number of novices equal to the number of players.

One player takes the role of the Abbess and the Prioress. They follow patrol routes in the convent marked by coloured lines, and can only deviate from these if they hear something. They get to listen TWICE a turn, once when the novices have moved, and again when the nuns have moved. A D6 determines how far they can hear.

Players record on paper how far they are moving, where they are moving to and how fast they are going. Novices who run are easier for the nuns to hear than novices who sneak or are completely still. Nuns can also see in a 180 degree arc in front of them, but cannot see novices behind this axis. Thus, a nun in a north-south corridor, facing west, can see all the way down both ends of the corridor, but cannot see someone behind them.

Novices are not placed on the map. Like Dracula in Fury of Dracula, they are only placed when seen by nuns (well, in Dracula's case, when found by hunters, but you get the drift I'm sure). The nuns have to move into the same spot as a novice to catch them: if the novice manages to run out of sight before a nun can get to them, they can evade, as happened in our game. Some areas of the board, like the gardens and church, are easier to be spotted in. Also, some areas, off the main patrol routes, might make better hiding places (my son's novice managed to evade the Abbess by hiding in a toilet).

The player of the nuns has a slightly more regimented game, which is why I feel this role is best reserved for the youngest player, as all their moves are out in the open, and you can see whether they are getting anything wrong. The nun player uses cards which determine patrol routes: each route can only be used once in the game, although the nuns also have two cards which allow them to go back on the same route. Once these are used, however, that's it. The nuns really only engage when they hear novices, when they can then decide to go looking for them. Counters are used to show which direction sounds came from, or where a novice was last seen. These stay on the board until the end of the nun's go, at which point they are removed. Consequently, nuns really only have one move in which to find a novice: if they fail, they tend to have to return to their patrol route.

In our only game of Nuns on the Run so far, I failed to catch any novices. I only had two to hunt for, but it is harder for the nuns with a smaller number of novices. This is balanced with a lower victory requirement, of course, but I suspect that with six novices running around, the nuns will certainly start catching them. Being caught is not the end of the game for a novice, but it does make it much harder for them to win. You get sent back to your cell, but can go AWOL as soon as the nun is out of sight. however, you do have to give up any cards you had, like your keys, for example. This can make it much harder to accomplish your goals in the 15 turn game limit.

Nuns of the Run is a great game if you are playing with kids or people who don't want to kill orcs or trample over Tokyo. It reminds me of Fury of Dracula, stripped down and without the horror elements. But instead of Dracula being invisible, the hunters are hidden and it is Dracula doing the searching. It is good fun and not too complex. I think it can easily be played inside 90 minutes, and this goal is certainly helped by the fact that most of the players move simultaneously.

I have included the review from the Dice Tower below if you need further convincing -

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