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Hunt: The Unknown Quarry Review

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MB Updated May 07, 2019
 
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Hunt: The Unknown Quarry

Game Information

There Will Be Games

Hunt: The Unknown Quarry is Jeremy Lennert’s latest, and it is nothing at all like his previous success Darkest Night. This is a three to six player social deduction game with a gothic horror theme. I’d be willing to bet that the gameplay was at least in part inspired by Chill: Black Morn Manor, Shadow Hunters, any version of Werewolf, and Clue. The setup is that the players each represent a Van Helsing-esque monster hunter converging on an abandoned mansion where a local monster has made a lair. And of course, one of the hunters is actually the monster. Insert the soundtrack cue announcing the plot twist.

Now, I do not particularly care for social deduction games and I’m frankly pretty worn out of bluffing like I’m not really the cop/bad dwarf/robot dude/zombie sympathizer. I think this mechanic in general has been ground into the dirt. But I like the storyline of this game and I like its approach to the deduction mechanic. It is also, as may not be apparent, kind of a fighting game. You’ll spend most of the game stabbing, netting, hammering, staking, shooting and punching the other players. It’s all in the name of science, of course, because the goal is to sort out not only who is the monster, but what kind of monster they are so that you know what you need to kill him/her/it. And then you’ve got to find the appropriate implement or implements among the cards in players’ hands or strewn about the mansion rooms.

At the beginning of the game, everyone gets a handful of item cards, but one player gets two monster cards that depict the attacks they can use. These also cross-reference to determine if the character is a vampire, werewolf, spirit, golem, fairy or lich. The monster’s goal is to kill or cripple everyone else. But only one hunter can win- this is not a co-op game, and I think that gives it nasty, free-for-all edge that many deduction games do not have.

On your turn, you get up to four actions to move through the mansion, search for items and harass other players. It’s really very simple mechanically, but it gets fairly complicated in keeping track of where everything is so there is kind of a memory element- if you don’t use the scratch sheets provided with the game. It’s very rules-light, which is to be expected with this kind of game as it needs to get out of the way of the suspicions, accusations and lies.

Through the course of the game, you’ll want to take notes because you will need to recall who has what or where that Cold Iron Poker was that you saw was laying around once you determine that your buddy Jim is a Warlock in disguise. Or you might have seen the other monster cards- those not held by the monster player- and need to rule out that Jim is not a Gorgon or Naga so you can plan accordingly. The cards shown to you by other players and the cards you see develop a matrix of possibilities, and the game is ultimately about eliminating possibilities until you arrive at the who, what and how.

But there is something of possible issue, and it is addressed literally on the first page of the rules. This is a very easy game to cheat at because it relies on a very specific kind of secret information. When you attack a player with an item, you have to roll against the item you are using without showing it to the person. Depending on the result, you decide if you want to go through with the attack. This obviously opens up the possibilities of bluffing. The results of the attack are resolved by the aggrieved taking wounds or sometimes showing or giving cards to the assailant.

This is all done between two players, and as it states in the rules any error- intentional or otherwise- may not be revealed until the end of the game when notes are compared. I don’t think the cheating is really an issue so much as someone screwing up is. If you attack a monster player with the correct weapon and they miss that it affects them, your note-taken can get thrown off. And if a player spends a minute looking at the monster/weapon reference chart…well, they are most likely the monster.

So Hunt: The Unknown Quarry requires that you play with honest people that completely understand not only the rules, but how they function to obscure and eventually reveal identity and vulnerability. If your group makes a mess of it, this is a game that could get unfair negative results.  Because it is a pretty neat, aggressive design that I think certain kinds of groups will completely fall for. Just be willing to have those WTF sessions where someone messed something up on accident…or was it? Reprise that plot twist soundtrack cue here.


Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

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