An alien has crash landed in Blackwood Grove. A boy on a bicycle must try to pass through the force field to help the alien before the Agents do! Visitor in Blackwood Grove has the quintessential 80’s theme, and is a unique asymmetrical reasoning game for players age 8 and up. It is published by Resonym, with quick games only taking 5-15 minutes
for three to six players.
- Force Field Board
- Object Deck (142 cards)
- Visitor Shield
- Trust Board
- Trust Token
- Role Cards (Alien, Kid, 4 Agents)
- 13 Example Pass Rule Cards
- 5 Card Markers (Kid and agents)
- 4 Guess Tokens
- Cloth bag
- Rule booklet
Being an asymmetrical game, the different characters in the game have different roles and a variety of win conditions. If the Kid figures out the pass rule first, the Visitor and Kid win. Should one Agent figure out the pass rule first, they win. The Agents are from competing government agencies and do not share information. Finally, if the Visitor has no cards at the start of a turn all the Agents win.
The Visitor creates the rule for what can pass through the force field. These rules must be general enough to make it challenging for the agents but not so hard the kid cannot figure it out. The game provides thirteen rules as examples. Some pass rules include: things containing metal, things in this room, and things with strings.
Each Agent on their turn has two options; they can Test an Object or Prove the Pass Rule. To test and object an Agent hands a card to the Visitor without showing it to any other players. The Visitor then places the card face down either inside the forcefield or outside to prove that Agent additional information about the Pass Rule. Only the Agent that played that card can go back and look at their face down cards. An Agent successfully proves the pass rule to win the game (described below).
The Kid has two options on their turn; they can Predict an Item or Prove the Pass Rule. To Predict Objects, the Kids shows a card from their hand. The Visitor states “admitted” or “repelled”. The kid may make up to three predictions, one card at a time. If the card is repelled the Kid’s turn is over and they gain no trust. If all the cards are correct, the Trust Token moves up the Trust Board. The Kids and Visitor benefit as trust develops. The Kid gaining Trust unlocks powers and rewards for the Kid and the Visitor.
Winning The Game
The key to winning is to Prove the Pass Rule. For either the Kid or the Agents the player draws four cards from the deck. The player aligns the cards they think will be admitted forward. While, the cards they think are repelled back. Meanwhile, The Visitor, behind a screen, indicates which cards pass through or get repelled using tokens. The visitor pushes them forward or back to correspond with the cards. If the tokens reveal the cards are all correct that player is the winner. Should any cards be incorrect their turn is over. If an Agent guesses and they are wrong, the Kid also gains two trust.
Family Game Assessment
For being a quick game Visitor in Blackwood Grove has quite a few rules, and some complexities. As an asymmetrical game there are rules for the different roles within the game. The first time bringing it to the table, we found that we needed to referred back to the rule book with each turn to make sure we understood what to do. The game was quick taking about ten minutes. We play again right away, switching roles, and one the second play the game flowed much better. This game might seem overwhelming to a novice gamer initially, but with one gameplay is easy to understand.
A non reader could play this game, with the limited reading required. With that said, the age of eight and up is a good fit for most players. The asymmetrical roles, and different decisions on each turn, would be challenging for younger players.
Card Interpretation: Benefits and Perils
While we played we encountered some interpretation in the cards. There was a picture of a wooden ladder and the Pass Rule was things that contain metal. As the Visitor, I was unsure of whether to admit or repel the ladder. The picture did not show visible metal on the ladder. However, wooden ladders could have only wood pegs or have metal nails. I made the decision to assume it was build with metal nails and admit the ladder.
Having interpretation in the cards that other players might disagreed with is embedded in the components of the game. That disagreement might be a point of contention for players. You need to consider if disagreement in the interpretation of the cards is going to be problematic.
On the flip side, with children, or even with adults, it is interesting to learn how they interpreted the card in a different way. At teachable moment might be available to provide another perspective. Exploring the concept of different interpretations is a valuable experience for young players.
If you are looking for a game that taps your 80’s nostalgia, Visitor in Blackwood Grove is a great one to bring to the table. The quick games and different roles give this game a lot of replay-ability. This can also be played by a range of ages and skills making it a great one for family gatherings.
If this sounds good to you, then you can purchase a copy of the game here on Amazon. (And if you do, then we get a percentage to help keep the lights on!)
FCC disclosure: A copy of this game was sent to us by the publisher for the purposes of this review.