Before I begin, I was sent a prototype copy of this game, and if it funds will receive a copy. This is not a paid preview. If you would rather see a video of this review check it out below. If you want to get your own copy click here!
You know what is rare. Co-op games that you cannot play solo. So when someone tells me they have one that must be played with others, has a unique mechanic for deduction, and is based in history…I am intrigued.
Enter Fallen Angels. Fallen Angels is a deduction game where you are trying to find evidence to convict various suspects from 1920’s Australia. If you mange to convict twelve you are the winner, if three get acquitted you have lost. Assuming you do win, then you look at how many “informants” or hints, you used. The fewer you use the MORE you have won!
Now I won’t lie…explaining how this works in print will be a challenge. So if it is not fully clear, check out the video review I have posted as well, that shows it pretty clearly. Each card has various symbols on two corners of each side of the card (four sets total). On opposite sides of a card you will see either two images or one, that single image is ALWAYS one of the two on the reverse.
Each game you have a hand of cards that cannot be shuffled or organized, the orientation that you get them must be maintained. On your turn you will holdup a single card to your co-prosecutors. They will look at the back of your card, and any of THEIR cards that has a matching symbol they will show you, and also mark all the cards they have that do NOT have that symbol on their side of the card. Then by looking at what they are showing (which they cannot see mind you), you are going to guess what image is on the reverse side of YOUR card.
Does your brain hurt yet? If you are correct you will get to shift the orientation of the card you have. You might flip it or rotate it, or if you have done that enough times, you will get to actually convict them! You might have to correctly guess a suspect three times to convict! Miss even once and they go free.
So what do I think?
The game is small, inexpensive, and highly portable. Additionally, even though reading how to play above is a little bit obtuse, the game actually is not all that hard to play. When you have all the cards in your hand it does become clear fairly quickly.
However, what I like the most about it is, the card turning and deduction mechanics are unlike anything that I have ever come across. It really feels extremely novel. It is a fantastic feeling when you manage to get a card correct, and even more fantastic when you finally are able to land a conviction! It truly is a wonderful puzzle.
I have only gotten to play the game two player, and I think the game struggles a little bit at that player count. We often found that we fell to simply guessing as we just did not have enough data points to really feel like we knew what the answer was. However, I do think that the game will play significantly better at a higher player count. When you are able to look around the table and see multiple peoples hands things will lock into place much more easily.
EDIT: The designer has let me know that they have tweaked the two player game to address the issues we had with playing two player.
We found the game to be punishingly difficult, and that might not be for you. While I am a fan of history, I do have an odd relationship with it in games. For example I do not like World War 2 games, as I just do not want to play as the Nazis…so sometimes a game will hit me in a way that pulls me out of the game and drops me into reality in a historic game.
This is one of those instances. Several of the suspects are convicted of “crimes” that are actually hot button issues nowadays, and could potentially lead to heated discussions, or arguments. When we played it just made us sad when these suspects were drawn. This might not bother you at all, but it is something I think that is worth noting.
Bringing it all together
Fallen Angels is an incredibly challenging, unique deduction game. I have never played a game with mechanics quite like it. The game does bring up some issues that could be hot buttons as it deals with real people from history, and it plays better at 3 or more players. It can be hard to grasp how the mechanics work at first, but once you get it, it is actually rather simple.
How are we going to convict twelve people if you don’t get to the point!
* Fascinating, unique method of deduction card play
* The game is very challenging
* Plays better at more than two players
* Inexpensive, and highly portable
* Some of the stories behind the cards can be hot button issues