I wouldn’t say hidden traitor or semi-cooperative games are my favorite board game mechanics. I don’t really seek these out, but I must be honest, I’m typically surprised how much I enjoy them after I play them. My first (back in the day) was Betrayal at House on the Hill and what I loved about this oldie is that it starts out being fully cooperative but then when the traitor is revealed, it becomes a semi-cooperative game.
This brings us to Deranged from Hobby World. This semi-cooperative, traitor game blends many different mechanics into a horror-themed game that mirrors Betrayal at House on the Hill, in that it begins as a full coop but after the first night turns into a semi-cooperative fight for survival against monsters and other players.
The Deranged rules are not difficult to learn but there’s too much detail to cover so here’s the PDF of the rules if you to see the full set for yourself.
After the board and set-up are completed. Players begin with an identical set of 7 action cards (drawing only 4 to start the game), 1 role card, 2 curse cards, and 3 night cards.
The game is played over a series of chapters outlined by 6 scenario sheets over 3 days and nights. Starting with the first player, each turn consists of 3 phases:
1. Hero Phase: play 1 action, item, or reward card on your turn OR rest and recover sanity. When your turn ends, draw back to 4 cards.
2. Monster Phase: all monsters on the board are activated in initiative order.
3. Time of day change: if the time changed to night or day, then the scenario sheet will change, and any steps related are resolved.
Action cards all contain 4 symbols: Movement, Attack, Defense, & Search. Players can choose 1 action per turn. When players find item or gain reward cards, those also have an item effect that can be used as well.
The scenario sheets will also have special rules for players and monsters to follow. When the time changes to night, players will look at their topmost night card and either be assigned a night mission, or become deranged.
Deranged is a special curse that only affects the player at night. The only way to discard the deranged token is to kill another player (or be healed with a specific item). The deranged player will use the bottom of the action, item, or reward cards to take their actions.
The only players that will win are those on the 3rd night who have no curses, deranged tokens, and are on the Enchanted Gate space. Other players will lose if these conditions are not met before the end of the 3rd night, all players lose if all players have deranged tokens.
I have to say that out of the gates Deranged is a fun game, my group and I really enjoyed it. But be warned, it’s challenging to win. The curse cards and night missions will have players trekking all over the board trying to meet the conditions to discard or gain the rewards. Heroes’ health and sanity will be constantly whittled down as they get attacked by monsters and other players. Deranged does a great job of making players suffer along with the heroes, but it makes a win something to savor.
Deranged has multiple decks that will add to the players starting action cards. The item and reward cards will bolster these during the game. The best thing about all these cards is that with multiple actions available, players can usually use the most advantageous symbols on their cards to move, attack, search, or defend when needed. Players will be drawing and searching for random cards, but they will still have good choices and a feeling of control as they play because of the multiple options that are available.
The last positive for me about Deranged was that even when a hero is killed, they are not eliminated from the game. When a hero is slain, they immediately draw a Cruse card and resolve it, then at the start of their next turn, their figure is moved to the graveyard and begins with full health. Yes, you’ll receive a penalty but Deranged keeps all players involved and in the game.
I think the starting action and item card decks are good size, so I have no issue with these. But there are other decks that I do wish were deeper, especially decks like role and reward cards. Deranged only has 6 role and 7 reward cards in total. The other thin deck is the scenario sheets. There are only 3 total (6 cards each and these are not interchangeable). So, if you play the game 3 times and used each scenario, you’ve played them all. Deeper decks would help the replay value.
The last point is not a big negative, but you just need to be aware. Deranged has players learn the game through an intro game mode. This is a very stripped-down version and I would suggest that any group stop when all players are comfortable with the mechanics. It’s too simplified and doesn’t give you the best version of the game because there are no roles, rewards, monsters (aside from Hungry Ghosts), or scenario cards. So, it gives you a feel for the mechanics but not the best parts of the gameplay.
Deranged is a fun and challenging game that most gamers should enjoy it. The action, item, and reward cards give players a great deal of control and choices in a game where curses, night missions, monsters, and other players will constantly test them. Also, no fear if your hero dies, there’s no player elimination in Deranged.
I would love to score Deranged higher but its replay value is hurt by thin decks for the roles, rewards, and scenarios. Additional cards in possible future expansions would help bring Deranged back to the table more but the starting thin decks do not help. Lastly, players should only play the intro mode for new players and even stop once all players are comfortable because it strips out the best parts of the full game.
Final Score: 3.5 Stars – A challenging and fun game, that begins as a fully cooperative and after the first night becomes a semi-cooperative fight for survival.
• Challenging but fun
• Action cards
• No player elimination
• Some decks could be deeper
• Intro Game is too stripped down