A mysterious alien craft streaks across the night sky and crashes in Blackwood Grove, the forest outside of town. Only two groups know of the ship: The Agents, who have been tracking the craft, swarm out of SUVs to dissect the Visitor. The Kid, who saw the comet trail, rides her bike over to save the Visitor. Who will get through the ship’s forcefield and win Visitor in Blackwood Grove?
Visitor in Blackwood Grove Set Up
You need a minimum of three people to play Visitor in Blackwood Grove. (New players should consider playing as the Kid or Agent for their first game)
- One player plays as the visitor
- One player plays as the kid
- All other players play as the Agents
Making the Pass Rule
Before the game begins, the Visitor looks at her hand and the 2 flipped object cards and secretly makes up the game’s Pass Rule: a simple rule that dictates what kinds of objects she will admit through the forcefield, for example “Things that contain metal.” First-time Visitors are encouraged to secretly choose or modify an example card to create the Pass Rule.
Gameplay and Goals
The Visitor and the Kid
The Visitor and the Kid work together. Visitor makes up a “Pass Rule” about the types of objects that are admitted through the forcefield — like “things that contain metal” — and hopes the Kid can solve it. If the Kid proves they know the Pass Rule before any of the Agents do, both the kid and the Visitor win.
Each Agent is from a different agency and is racing to figure out the Visitor’s Pass Rule and get through the forcefield. The first Agent to figure it out wins. The Agents are not on a team and do not share information.
The Agent sitting to the Visitor’s left takes the first turn. Proceeding clockwise, each Agent takes a turn. Once all Agents have taken a turn, the Kid takes her turn. The Visitor takes her turn after the Kid’s turn. Remember: if the Visitor has no cards in her hand at the start of her turn, the Agents win.
On an Agent’s Turn
They have 2 opinions, Test an Object or Prove the Pass Rule:
- Test an Object – Choose one card from your hand and secretly show it to the Visitor. The Visitor places it according to the Pass Rule face down.
- Prove the Pass Rule
- Get it right: You win! Everyone else loses.
- Get it Wrong: The Kid gets +2 Trust
Then Draw until you have 7 cards in your hand.
On the Kid’s Turn
They have 2 opinions, Predict Objects or Prove the Pass Rule:
- Predict Objects: Show everyone 1 card from your hand and predict “admitted” or “repelled.” The Visitor places the card face up according to the Pass Rule.
- Get it right: Predict another card or End your turn. Get +1 Trust for each card predicted this turn (max. 3)
- Get it Wrong: Your turn is over. Trust doesn’t change
- Prove the Pass Rule: If you’re right, you and the Visitor win. If you’re wrong, your turn is over.
Increasing Trust is the only way the Kid draws cards. After predicting cards, the Kid moves the Trust token up on the Trust board one spot for each card she predicted correctly. The Kid gets the Reward listed under each spot as she moves to it.
On the Visitor’s Turn
Trust decides your action:
- If Trust is 0-2: Choose a card from your hand and place it face up according to the Pass Rule.
- If Trust is 3+ : Choose a card from your hand, secretly show it to the Kid, then place it face down according to the Pass Rule.
Proving the Pass Rule
In order to win, players try to prove the Pass Rule. The Visitor doesn’t understand humans, so players don’t say a guess out loud. Instead, when a player thinks they knows the Pass Rule, they can spend their turn to try to prove it by showing which of 4 random objects will be admitted.
- Proving player takes 4 cards from the top of the object deck …and lines them up across from the shield
- The Visitor secretly marks which of the 4 objects are admitted and which are repelled behind the shield using the guess tokens.
- Proving player pushes the cards she thinks are admitted toward the board
- The Visitor lifts the shield. If all the positions of the cards match the positions of the tokens, the proving player wins!
Filling the Board
There are 8 spaces for face up object cards on the board, and 8 spaces beside the board. If all the card spaces on the board are filled when another face up card is admitted (or the spaces beside the board are filled when a face up card is repelled), the player chooses a card space and places the card on top of the other cards in that space. Players can only look at the top card in each space. If a player is placing multiple cards in a single turn, she may not cover up another card placed on that turn.
- The Kid proves the Pass Rule
- An Agent proves the Pass Rule (That Agent Wins)
- Visitor has 0 cards in hand at start of turn (All Agents Win)
I must start this review by saying, don’t play Visitor in Blackwood Grove with my friends! They are idiots…. but I love you all.
On a more serious note, Visitor in Blackwood Grove is great deduction games; that has the depth of Mysterium and the playthrough speed of something like Deception. It is quick and fun but with a beautiful amount of depth that makes this something special; and not just another bland or copycat deduction game. One of my favourite elements of Visitor in Blackwood Grove, which is silly, is the way you prove the pass. It reminds me of the game I used to play with my grandfather, Mastermind. That 1970s game brings back so many memories, and the way to prove the pass has elements like that.
So, let’s talk about my previous comments. Why are my friends (that I played this with, not all of them) are all idiots? It all came down to making a pass rule. It can be anything, it’s metal, it is red in colour, or any of the number of examples they supply in the game. Do my friends chose one of them? No. Do they choose something similar? No. They chose something so random and out there that the first 3 games were won by all the agents, 4 in total, coz no one had any ideas. Word of advice, Things that appear in Indian Jones movies and things you can find on a plane are stoopid Pass Rules. Just saying!
That being said, this game is a lot of fun, and once we changed the Visitor to a new person (and laid down strict rules). The games flew by and we all had a ball, even had my mate’s daughter, (9 years old) sit down and have a game or 2. She was so adorable and the Pass Rules she came up with was amazing; Things I can say in Spanish, thanks to Dora. The Agents technically one that round, but we were all laughing to much when she told us; that we awarded her the win. It seemed only fair.
I personally love deduction games, but it has been a while since I have found something I really liked, since probably Mysterium. Before Mysterium, I can’t think of the last deduction games I really loved; until now. That being said, Visitor in Blackwood Grove is different from Mysterium. It shares elements, but I believe Visitor in Blackwood Grove is a far more approachable and player-friendly game and has fewer limitations.
Visitor in Blackwood Grove has a little bit for all ages and all kinds of gamers. I love the versatilely of this game and how easy it is to scale up for adults or simplify for kids.