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Deadly Dowagers.... Marriage, Murder and Money!

Delve into the Victorian era with Deadly Dowagers as you take on the role of a Lady trying to win the heart of the Duke. However, this can only be done once you have a large enough dowry to your name. Marry, murder and misconstrue those around you to be the first to meet the Dowry required and ultimately marry the Duke.

Deadly Dowagers Board Game Set up

The first published game from female designer Sarah Shipp, I really wasn't too sure what to expect, however the theme and description utterly intrigued me and in support of female designers, I had to give it a go!

First Impressions

The box was slightly smaller than I was expecting, which was actually quite impressive as it had a nice weight to it. The artwork has been well designed to fit the theme and has a nice continuity throughout. The tokens are cardboard but of a decent thickness from the punch out boards and the cards have a linen finish, which I quite like as it almost adds to the theming of the game. Lastly, the ruleset wasn't too thick and contained just enough detail to really understand the game without being too cumbersome.

Game Play Overview

Deadly Dowagers board game investment phase

The game is played over a variable number of rounds depending on how quickly someone manages to Marry the Duke! Each round is split into 4 phases, starting with a drafting phase before moving onto the Investment phase, followed by the husband phase and finally the housekeeping phase. During the investment phase, you can play lands, ventures and instant cards to increase your potential inheritance and attempt to reduce your infamy through good deeds. Moving on to the husband phase, you'll be able to play a cause of death card to bump off your current husbnad or a remarry card to marry a new one. When sending your husband to his demise, you'll collect his inheritance and increase your infamy by the number of husbands you've previously knocked off. If during this phase, you manage to have no current husband, a remarry card, no more than 9 infamy and 120 crowns in your possession, you can marry the duke and win the game.

Pros and Cons

Deadly Dowagers board game Remarry card

Deadly Dowagers is a medium weight game with a nice level of competition and a reasonable amount of strategy. It's the sort of game I can see myself playing over and over to work out the best strategy possible! The components are a nice quality and the artwork really reflects the theme, however it would have been nice to have some varying artwork for the farms and estates to easier depict the varying symbols on the cards. I was expecting the infamy to increase much quicker and need to be managed far more than it was, however it means that the final goal of marrying the Duke wasn't as difficult to achieve as I thought it would be and I could focus more on ensuring my Dowry was large enough to win. There's several ways to get to the point where you can marry the Duke and its fun trying to figure out how best to do so. There's a nice amount of replayability to this game.

Final Verdict

Overall, I really enjoyed this game and I look forward to seeing what the designer brings out in future. It's nice to see a Victorian theme done differently.

In conclusion, we would rate this game a 9.5/10


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