When a muse chooses a human virtuoso to master their influence, they want their protege to rise above in society. But what happens when the other muses also choose virtuosos that do the same? In efforts to change the game, so to speak, the muses decide to work through their proteges to bring doubt and dread on others abilities to eliminate any competition for who is the best in the arts. In Bemused : A Game of Doubt and Dread, you represent a muse working through your human virtuoso to carefully manipulate the brutal world of artistic superiority in your favor. Produced by Devious Weasel Games and set to release at Gen Con 2017, Bemused challenges you to sink into your role as a muse and master the arts, whether it be by deception or salvation.
Devious Weasel Games
Bemused comes in a small box that contains the following:
- Rule book
- 6 Virtuoso cards
- 6 Gemina cards
- 66 Doubt cards
- 18 Dread cards
- 12 secrets
The art for Bemused is done by Naomi Robinson and Tani Pettit, all of which is beautiful and eye-catching.
How to Play
To start, each player randomly draws a Virtuoso to represent their protege. Options are The Thespian, Musician, Singer, Dancer, Poet, and Painter. Shuffle only the Gemina cards that match the Virtuosos drawn. Give one of these Gemina cards to each player face down, and each player may look at their card but keep it face down unless revealed later in game. Each player is also dealt a random Secret card that can also be looked at, but should remain face down – these tell the player how they feel about their Gemina and their goal in regards to them. Each player draws 1 Dread card for their hand and leaves the remaining Dread in a pile in the center of the table – this is the Well of Dread. Shuffle the Doubt card that match the Virtuosos in play, and deal 4 to each player. The rest go face down in the center of the table – the Well of Doubt. At the start of the game, each Virtuoso is alive and well, free of any doubt or dread.
Each turn consists of 3 steps. First players draw 2 cards from the Well of Doubt to add to their hand. Next step is to make a play. The active player can plant a matching Doubt card on a Virtuoso in play (as long as they are alive and sane), plant a Dread card on any Virtuoso (alive and sane), use their own virtuoso ability by revealing a Doubt card that matches their own Virtuoso and discard it, or (if they are sane) they may reveal and discard any 2 matching Doubt cards to take a card from the Well of Dread and place it on any alive and sane Virtuoso. Optionally, if a player’s Virtuoso is sane at the start of their turn, they may make an additional play. Lastly, the active player discards 1 card. If they’ve gone insane on their turn, this card must be discarded at random. If for some reason a player cannot perform any of the plays, they must discard a card from their hand.
Sane Virtuosos are displayed color-side up and vertical, while insane Virtuosos are color-side up and horizontal. When a Virtuoso card has a total sum of 5 cards (Dread and/or Doubt), they go insane. When this happens, the Gemina card is flipped over from whatever position it was in – players can gain and lose the abilities of their Geminas many times in the same game. When insane, Virtuosos get a special “play and discard” step. After drawing, the player will take 2 random cards from their hand. They must play one of these cards and discard the other in a legal move, or discard both if neither can be played and end their turn. Insane Virtuosos may not instill dread or take a second play. If the total sum of cards on your Virtuoso is ever brought below 5, they immediately regain sanity. Geminas stay in their current orientation until the Virtuoso is driven insane again.
Players may choose to reveal their Gemina at any time and it doesn’t count as a play, but they must take a Dread card and place it on their own Virtuoso card. If a player’s Gemina is revealed and alive, they may use their gemina’s ability as well as their own. If they are their own Gemina they can draw one additional card during the draw step. When a Gemina is revealed by insanity, Dread is placed on the matching Virtuoso’s card. So if the Poet’s Gemina is the Painter and the Poet goes insane, revealing the Painter as the Gemina gains the Painter Virtuoso a Dread card. The only way this doesn’t go into effect is if the Virtuoso is a Fantasma.
What is a Fantasma? It is the ghost of a dead Virtuoso! If 3 or more of the 5 total Dread/Doubt cards are Dread cards, they die and flip their Virtuoso card to the black and white side. All cards are discarded, cards can no longer be played on Fantasmas, and they keep their Secrets. On a Fantasma’s turn, they draw a Dread card and plant it on another living sane Virtuoso or use it to replace a Doubt card. Fantasma end scores are based on the number of Fantasmas in play so they will work hard to bring others into the afterlife.
The game ends when fewer than 2 sane Virtuosos are in play. Players calculate their scores according to the following chart.
There may be ties but sane Virtuosos win ties with insane ones, and Fantasmas lose ties to living Virtuosos.
Drawing On The Muses
We had the pleasure of checking out an early version of Bemused at Who’s Yer Con earlier this year. We did a small demo in the exhibit hall, as well as a few games afterwards in full-game demos. We had the advantage of having a lot of questions answered before the game was in our hands in regards to how to play and we had a great time doing so.
Every game we’ve played of Bemused was fun, whether we played with strangers or friends. It is easy to play multiple games if you’re really into it, but it is also very suitable for a quick-to-the-table game. My favorite part of the game is the Secrets! Getting a Gemina for your Virtuoso is awesome because you have the chance to use 2 abilities instead of just 1, but the Secret mechanic is really what pulls the game for me. Depending on your secret, the game can really be a crazy balance of management while maintaining your secret. If your Gemina is being attacked but you Love or are Devoted to your Gemina, you’ll have to use abilities to divert the Virtuosos away from your Gemina or even assist them. Sometimes other players will assume your secret but with 6 different ones, there’s no guarantee that they are correct!
The game play is fun and engaging, but one of the best parts of the game is the invitation to use “shameless table talk”. By this, I mean getting into the game and acting through your muse to give cause to the doubt you’re planting. For example, Your muse may plant a Doubt card on the Painter, and making a comment about how their most recent piece looked like the work of a child…should they even call themselves an artist? Make sure the players at the table understand this in advance so that no out-of-game feelings are hurt and have fun with it!
I’m an artist so this game appealed to me on many levels. The visuals in this game really are stunning, while some pieces are simple. I like this balance because when I’m trying to come up with some in-game theme (such as dissing the Poet’s “sweet” verse), I’d rather be holding and playing cards with simple graphics to better formulate my doubt. I think the game setup is quick and makes sense and is easy to remember, which is great for getting the game to the table and teaching new players. I can’t think of anything I dislike about this game.
If you only have 4 players the game will be on the lower end of the play time spectrum, but I personally prefer the game at 6 players. That way all 6 muses are in the arena and a lot of shade gets thrown, but ultimately it makes for a fun experience! This game will stay in our collection for years to come, and I’ve loved introducing it to new players.
Bemused : A Game of Doubt and Dread will be available August 17th and you can pick up a copy in person at Gen Con. Devious Weasel Games will be at Booth 2557 and will retail for $25. Gen Con pick-up will also get you 2 free quick reference cards