Billionaire Banshee Review

Billionaire Banshee Cover Art
Billionaire Banshee Cover Art
Released 2014
Designer Steven Bailey aka Razlo
Publisher Breaking Games (Website)
Players 1 – 10 (really, any number if you use thumbs up/down for voting)
Playing Time Box states 60 min. About 2-5 minutes per ’round’ depending on conversation.
Category Party
Icebreaker
“Would you rather”
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

It’s a dating game, but so much more. And less. Billionaire Banshee is a game you can make anything you want it to be!

This is probably going to be my shortest gameplay review ever. You have heard me talk about simple games that offer more than they seem in the past. It’s a bit of a cliche in a lot of ways. But it describes Billionaire Banshee perfectly.

Billionaire Banshee is a great ‘getting to know you’ party game. A player draws a Perk and a Quirk card, creating a fictional date for the player. For example, you may meet a Kung Fu Master than can only speak in Rap.

The player then decides secretly if they would date that person. Everyone else chooses if the player would or wouldn’t date them. Everyone reveals their choice, and if you match the player, a point is earned?

That’s it. That’s the game. Play until you have had enough. It’s that easy.

Wait, you don’t know how to score the game?

I use the question mark because Billionaire Banshee is like Who’s Line is it Anyway? – the points don’t matter. You can track points to see if there is a winner, but I treat each game as a getting to know you activity.

You can sit and chat and get to know new players. It’s the part of board gaming I enjoy the most. But sometimes it’s hard to find a common thread to start a conversation. The over the top situations presented by the game are great conversation starters.

Billionaire Banshee Would you date them
Would you go on a date with this person?

How does that start a conversation?

To start with, the premise of the term ‘date’. It’s incredible how many groups I have played this with that instantly assume this means sleep with or marry the fictional person.

Is it a first date? A dinner/movie/see what happens type affair? Do you mean long term? Just that little interpretation of the word ‘date’ reveals a lot about a person.

You then have the list of Perks and Quirks. There are a lot of Quirks as I see as Perks and vice-versa. One perk is ‘Expert Treasure Hunter’. They are intelligent, wealthy and athletic sure. They are also away a lot. I would love to go out for a meal or catch-up.

Would I try to date them though? Probably not, I see this as a negative.

Others might not – they may see this as a positive, as they have a lot of time to themselves to do what they want. This difference of opinion and why opens up the chance for a lot of discussions.

Billionaire Banshee Can be seen differently
Not all cards will fit everyones ideas. A 'sexy accent' is racy?

This is why I think Billionaire Banshee is a great icebreaker game. The ridiculous situations presented sometimes, and watching players react to those situations, is a heap of fun. 

I wouldn’t play it over and over, or for hours on end. But to pick it up at the start of the night and find out about people, yourself, and how others see you is a unique thing.

But I heard that there are inappropriate cards.

Yes, there are. If you want to keep the game relatively clean, remove/discard the cards with the teddy bear on the back. These are the racier cards.

I say relatively clean because even in the ‘safe’ cards, there are some perks and quirks that can be read as racy. For example, one ‘clean’ card has a person whose nipples taste like pizza. Read into that as you will.

This is where you begin learning about people very quickly. If someone is offended because a ‘safe’ card mentioned nipples, it tells you a lot about them.

Conversely, if they are overly enthusiastic about the mention of nipples, that tells you a lot about them as well.

Billionaire Banshee Bear
Playing with your parents? Maybe don't draw the cards with a bear.

I have heard this game is pretty offensive.

At the end of the day, Billionaire Banshee present players with a hypothetical situation for a potential date. You don’t have to say yes, just like real life. And like real life, people you may not be interested in might ‘ask you out’.

If you can’t handle the idea of being asked out by someone with traits you don’t like, I don’t think that’s the games fault.

Here’s my take. Yes, some wordings and descriptions could have been worded better. Some things can be seen as negatives because they only appear as quirks, such as ‘Opposite Gender’. There are very valid points raised in this regard.

On the whole, I think Razlo did a great job of leaving a lot up to the player. When you are presented a date option, it’s up to you to determine a lot of details outside character descriptions. Things like gender are up to you to imagine.

Billionaire Banshee Not many components required
These are all the components. Really, you only need the Perk and Quirk cards.

Criticisms about representation are valid, but by the same token, the only bad experiences I have had with the game were because of another players prejudices. This was a one-off, and I have played Billionaire Banshee in at least 30 different sessions with multiple new groups.

There are also ‘safe’ Perk cards that are presented in a wholesome way, but for me bring back negative memories, so I don’t see them as such. Other people will have similar reactions to different cards. People that don’t like to be touched won’t be interested in a Professional Hugger, for example.

So it’s blown out of proportion?

Sometimes. Billionaire Banshee is such a quick and fun game, that it’s easy to bury the gameplay in negatives and potential trigger situations. This makes things sound much worse than the fun game that is generally played.

If you want to have fun with a new group of people or old friends alike, and learn things about them at the same time, Billionaire Banshee is a great game. Just remember that in learning about people, sometimes you will discover something about them you might not have wanted to.

Overall Thoughts

There are cards that could make people uncomfortable, but they are easily identified. The conversations and humour Billionaire Banshee generates make it a great game adaptable to many different play styles.

Throw the rules to the side, kick back and enjoy the ride. How many games can you pull out a couple of cards and play the first round with a rules explanation in under a minute?

Overall
9/10
9/10

Pros

  • Quick to teach
  • Fun to play
  • Conversation starter

Cons

  • Some cards could be worded better
  • NSFW cards especially can cause people varying levels of distress

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Shadows: Amsterdam Review

Shadows Amsterdam Feature
Shadows Amsterdam Feature
Released 2018
Designer Mathieu Aubert
Publisher Libellud (Website)
Players 2 – 8 (Really want 4 – 6)
Playing Time 15 – 20 minutes
Category Deduction
Exploration
Real Time
Puzzle
Party Game
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

What happens when you mix Codenames with Dixit and make it a real time race?

**This isn’t one of mine – I borrowed Alpal’s copy of Shadows: Amsterdam for this review

Shadows: Amsterdam is one of those games that I wasn’t overly excited about for all the wrong reasons. Firstly, I kept trying to call it Shadows over Amsterdam. Not the games fault – Shadows over Camelot left a considerable impression on me.

Next, it was Codenamesesque. Not a bad thing on its own, but I have a few versions of Codenames that wasn’t hitting the table.

Finally, it’s a four player game at a minimum. Yes, I know the box says 2-8, but the two and three player counts are a variant. This isn’t a bad thing by itself, but it only captures the game mechanics. More on this later.

There was considerable hype building on Shadows: Amsterdam, but I wasn’t going to go out of my way to buy it.

So sitting down at Alpal’s one afternoon, when we had four players and the chance to play, I jumped at the chance. And I am glad I did. One play in, and I was an instant convert.

Shadows Amsterdam Components
A little more involved that the simple party games of late

So what is the game?

Two teams take the part of rival detective agencies, trying to solve a crime before the other side or the police. Yes, you have to avoid the police – they don’t like civilians doing their job better!

The city in Shadows: Amsterdam is a large place, made up of hexagonal tiles that change between games. It is large and colourful, and you will need to be on the ball to search for all the evidence required to solve the case.

There is one Intelligence Master per team. Their job is to help their operatives collect evidence and avoid the police. These players can see all the evidence locations and police the teams have to avoid.

From here, the aim is simple – be the first team to collect three pieces of evidence then head to the objective to win! But if you run into the police three times, you are out of the running and lose, so be careful!

Shadows Amsterdam Intelligence Cards
Unlike Codenames, both teams can't see everything - there is only a limited amount of shared information

Oh, I should also point out that there are no turns – Shadows: Amsterdam is a real-time game. This adds to the tension and flow beautifully, but again more on that later ūüôā

Playing the Game

All other players work together to try and interpret the clues given to them. But the Intelligence Master must remain hidden, so they have to understand strange clues! Hints are provided in the form of picture cards intended to direct them to the next step in a path.

This was the first thing I had a little trouble getting my head around. You aren’t being handed the end location immediately, but the next step in a path. The Intelligence Master can only communicate with the cards, so you have to trust you are doing OK.

When you start the game, you receive one or two picture cards that hopefully direct you to the correct tile. If you are given one card, it represents a tile one move around you. Two cards and your location is two steps away. If you think of the ring around your piece, it lets you move one or two rings, so it’s not blind guessing amongst the noise.

Shadows Amsterdam Where To Go
One clue, move one tile - and the blanks are no go zones. Which of the three should orange move to?

This mechanic allows you to focus purely on what is before you, and you will need to. The real-time nature of Shadows: Amsterdam lends itself to an almost push your luck feeling. If you can make a decision quickly, you will travel more than your opponents. But if you rush decisions, you may walk straight into the police!

The feeling of urgency and tension also builds quickly as your opponents start collecting more evidence than you. Conversely, as your opponents find the police more often, this can help boost you as they have to start playing more cautiously. Shadows: Amsterdam is a game that manages to get inside your head.

So it sounds fun. What’s wrong with it?

Very little in my opinion – as long as you are playing with at least four people. At this player count, you have two Intelligence Masters and two team players. Everything I have described is how a game works at this count.

At two or three players, everyone plays one side only and has to race the clock. It’s a straight time limit. Yes, you will have a sense of dread as you watch the time run out, but it’s not the same. Watching a timer count down doesn’t affect you as much as watching a team on a hot streak.

At a lower player count, the mechanics are all there, but not the party game type atmosphere. Beating a clock is an accomplishment, but it is more fun to have a competitive rivalry with other people.

Shadows Amsterdam Tension Rising
Orange is one piece of evidence up, but if black makes one more mistake it's game over! One team just doesn't give you this feeling
JohnHQLD
Shadows: Amsterdam

Final Thoughts

Shadows: Amsterdam is very much in a place to become a Codenames: Pictures replacement for me. It plays faster, has more ‘game’ to it, and has just as much replayability.

It is also a game that I can see myself playing with younger players more than Codenames. While there is more to keep track of, the lack of downtime keeps player interest high. The simple goals are also easy to focus on.

If I am playing two players, Codenames: Duets still wins for me. If someone wants to play Codenames: Pictures, I will be reaching for Shadows: Amsterdam as an improvement on a great formula.

Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10

Pros

  • ¬†Fast to Teach and Play
  • ¬†Great for all ages
  • ¬†Beautiful artwork and components
  • ¬†Easy to get people into a game

Cons

  • ¬†Really a four player game
  • ¬†People may overlook it as being another Codenames
  • ¬†Board pieces could be thicker