Blood on the Clocktower Review

26 September 2022
Worth the wait

It feels like a decade since Blood On The Clocktower made its move into the gaming zeitgeist. It, a werewolf or mafia style game of trying to find the baddies or kill the goodies, straddles a plane between the ethereal and the corporeal – much like players who have been killed in the night and want to spill the beans. You may have played this at many gaming conventions, special events, or even online using the fan-made app (there’s an official one coming soon). You might have watched people play it during various lockdowns and pandemic induced doom-scrolls. It feels familiar.

In truth, the game funded on Kickstarter in 2019, and it’s here in 2022 – there have been many worse delayed games over the last three years. And it feels familiar not only because it’s in the hobby in a big way for so long before its launch, but because the concept is simple and one you’ve likely tried before – albeit, without this much theatre.

One player takes the role of the storyteller – directing the action, calling votes, and waking people up at night. The players – of which you’ll need five minimum – are given roles secretly drawn from a bag. These will be either good or evil. Good players will likely have a power that gives them information or protects a player, and bad players will likely have a power that causes confusion or directly kills a player in the night. Evil players are given a cover story – another token to pretend to be – and you’re away. Everyone closes their eyes at night, and the storyteller wanders around waking people up, giving them choices like ‘pick someone to gain information about’ or ‘who do you want to die?’ having the player close their eyes again before moving on to the next one. In the morning, everyone wakes up, and the accusations start.

And it’s here that it’s very easy to get tricked. A big group of your friends having a great time, in your home, laughing, joking – that feeling is a Must-Play feeling, right? This is where Blood On The Clocktower excels – you’re able to generate so much in the way of good fun between people (and, to fully explain, we played the game in one of our sessions for 7 hours in a row). The production leans into it. You’re not sat at the traditional ‘biggest table in the house’ – you’re forced into a slightly more comfy room, as the storyteller has to move around in the middle, between players, to wake them up with a tap on the shoulder. Players can also get up to have private chats, separately. It becomes theatrical in that way, everyone reads into everything too much, people fall out in-game and fun little stories about who knew what and who lied about who.

On top of that, as the storyteller you might think you have the best seat in the house. Watching the demon clam up because they’re suddenly under a lot of pressure, or a poisoner minion target exactly the right people at the right time (poison and drunkenness mean the player’s power won’t work, they’ll get bad information, or similar). You’d be right in the sense of the components – most of the (seemingly very large) RRP goes into a huge box, which you clip together as a grimoire. Within, as the storyteller you’ll be using felt backed tokens on the felt lined box to place the players in their location around the semi-circle. They stick like magic and it’s more satisfying than it ought to be. This is also how statuses are applied to players, or reminders are left for you as the storyteller to wake people up or the death tokens (which, again, satisfyingly hang over a player’s token when they’re dead). There are three full scenarios in the box and a traveller expansion, and while that doesn’t sound much, each set contains a multitude of townsfolk, demons and outsiders for you to mix and match. In fact, much of the fun of the storyteller is that ‘making-a-mixtape’ feel of picking the selection of demons and their prey to go into a game. Additionally to all of this, there’s player aids for all scenarios for the full player limit of 20. All of this ‘stuff’ is there to help the storyteller run the game correctly, and with the RRP being what it is it’s hard to recommend for what amounts to a hugely expensive memory aide and list of instructions.

But that’s a little reductive – as is thinking you’ve got the best seat in the house as the storyteller. Sure, it’s got the best view of the action, but it’s not got the direct thrill of being a demon on the run. Or a player with a power that will get them killed if they reveal it. Being a player in this game soon feels like that place between art and sport. You’ll want to get good at it in the same way you want to get good at a deckbuilder or similar. Working out which roles are in the game and how you triangulate between them is great, and so is the logic puzzle of ‘if she’s telling the truth then this’ when it comes up against the gut feelings or a really confident lie of other players. It does feel like magic when it’s going well, and it usually does go well.

The years in the wilderness, and being run at shows – coupled with the huge potential player count – made our group feel less like we’d be buying a game, but instead buying a convention kit. And this is fine as long as you know what you’re going in for. It seems ideal for a group of friends who want to go in on the game together, sharing the cost and making a regular night of it. There is longevity here after all – not only in swapping out the players – but also in all of the different roles that can occur. Weird and wonderful outsiders (the lunatic being a favourite – they’re a good outsider player who thinks they’re the demon) make for some really wacky interactions.

I mentioned there was a trick in the middle of this review – but that’s a trick for reviewers, a way to get sidetracked from whether the game is good, or if it’s just nice to hang out with so many people. The reality is that the game is great. You’re going to have a good time playing it and running it, and you’ll want to go again straight away. Take the plunge and discover whether the demon inside of you is any good at bluffing as a washerwoman.



Buy it for your group, or ask your game store to run event nights. It will create great evenings, and even a reason to get people together, but maybe share the burden of the cost between you all.

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TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED One Night Ultimate Werewolf…

If you like this classic, or even just the idea of a big group coming together to take turns murdering one another, then Blood On The Clocktower is the upgrade you’ve been waiting for

Read the full review here

Buy your own copy here

Designer: Steven Medway

Publisher: The Pandemonium Institute

Time: 30-120 minutes

Players: 5-20

Ages: 15+

Price: £160

What’s in the box?

  • Grimoire (in two pieces)
  • Grimoire stand
  • Town square board
  • 4 Plastic sleeves
  • Set up sheet
  • Traveller sheet
  • 2 Bags
  • 18 Shroud (death) tokens
  • 4 Info tokens
  • 3 Metal clips
  • 20 Life tokens
  • 18 Vote tokens
  • 4 Scenarios with between 50-100 tokens, character sheets and reminder tokens each

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