Starting together, one of you becomes deranged. Who will it be? A mid-core tabletop game with graphic style artwork, secret identity, deck-building, modular tiles, dark fantasy survival horror, and re-playability.
You and two to five of your closest friends stumble upon the deceptively quiet town of Wutburg. It seems like the perfect place to stop and have dinner at the tavern and rest at the inn for the night.
However, something is lurking in the darkness and within each character. You and your fellow travelers awaken at dawn and find yourselves cursed and unable to leave the damned town easily. Your only salvation is to work together to rid yourselves of the curses and beat the monsters taking over. Will you become one of the deranged? That is, essentially, the gist of the game.
Will You or Another Player Become Deranged?
When you first open up Deranged, it takes about thirty minutes to set up the modular tile board, pick one of the two towns to play in, read through the roles, and place the 12 figures around the city. Deranged is a semi-cooperative adventure game in the vein of dark gothic fantasy. There are six Heroes to choose from, hidden motives and playable pieces, role cards, and Health and Sanity tracks.
I enjoy the concept of board games a lot, but I was an only child growing up, so I never really explored cooperative and semi-cooperative board games until I was an adult. Growing in popularity, semi-cooperative board games create that playing tension where you're working together one minute, but the next minute my fellow player becomes deranged and stabs me.
Per the Deranged rule book, there are two initial phases: the intro and the full setup. Each player’s round also triggers different in-game phases: the Hero Phase, the Monster Phase, and the Time of Day Change Phase. During each of these phases, you play different Action, Item, or Reward cards.
Each Action card has symbols that correlate with symbols and locations on the board. The complexity of the cards contributes to the re-playability of the game. Sometimes specific colors on your Action cards allow you to only move to specific spaces or specific ways. You can attack your fellow players or defeat monsters along the way. Oh, right. The monsters. During the game, you fight different kinds of characters while also running the risk of becoming deranged yourself and turning on your team.
The game's goal is to survive the night by reaching the Enchanted Gate, breaking your curses, and avoiding becoming deranged. All the while, you will run the risk of losing both Health and Sanity points — luckily, you can pick up elixirs and objects that remedy these losses.
Deranged is a visually stunning game. Each of the Heroes is beautifully designed, and everything from the double-sided board to the tokens and the various decks of cards has a fully cohesive and engaging aesthetic. I would love this game if it were adapted into a video game or a visual medium, based solely on the look and story.
I am confident that I did not play Deranged as intended the first time around because we all ended up surviving the game, somehow. While the game does have an option where everyone wins, I'm pretty sure we did something wrong during our first try.
It is an enjoyable hour or two of gameplay. The intro is designed to help you get comfortable with the game's mechanics, and it's nice that you aren't out of the game completely, even if your player dies.
The Bottom Line
Deranged would be the perfect game to play over two hours with a group of mid-core tabletop gamers. While the game has many elements to it and an endless series of combinations for multiple gameplays, it would benefit from extension packs.