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Witch of Salem from Mayfair Games

By Tim Kidwell
Published: March 12, 2010
Witch of Salem box top
Witch of Salem game setup
Product: Witch of Salem is a board game for two to four players, ages 12 and up. The premise is the players are helping Robert Craven, the Witch of Salem, defeat his adversary, Necron. Necron is trying to bring about the end of the world by unleashing the "Great Old Ones" of H.P. Lovecraft fame.

The game has a great feel to it, with moody art that evokes the macabre horror of Lovecraft's world. Wooden components represent the players on the board, while a die and combination of cards and cardboard chits round out the games components.

Gameplay: Witch of Salem is a cooperative game. Players work together to reach a common goal: stop Necron before he opens the dimensional rift. Players accomplish this by moving around Arkham, closing portals that lead to the parallel dimension where the Great Old Ones live. At the same time, they gather magic items and combat monsters, all in the hopes of having the correct magic items to defeat the imprisoned Great Old One at the end of the game.

Strategy is important, as players need to balance obtaining and using magic items to defeat monsters, cure insanity, discover portals, close portals and unveil Great Old Ones. Clever resource management is necessary, since time is continually working against players as Necron moves closer to the dimensional rift.

There are two crisis points during the game. The first is the "demon space" at the corner of the board. If Necron reaches this space before all of the Great Old Ones are revealed, then the game ends and the players lose. The other occurs once the last of the Great Old Ones are revealed. The text on this card affects all of the players for the rest of the game, unless the Great Old One is banned.

Winning comes once players have closed all of the portals, not opened any new ones and banned the final Great Old One in R'lyeh.

Marketing: Witch of Salem is a very challenging game. It requires a very good sense of timing, resource management, and no small amount of luck.

With that said, it is also incredibly fun to play. As Necron begins to move toward the dimensional rift, players start to feel the pressure build, and it affects how well plans are executed, or if players remember where an open portal is or isn't.

To catch customers' attention, build a display of similarly priced or themed games at the front of your store just beyond the decompression zone or at a prominent location in your games department. When building your display, consider that this is a cooperative game and that you might want to feature other cooperative games, like Lord of the Rings, Descent, Shadows over Camelot, or Arkham Horror. You'll find that many customers -- yes, even experienced board gamers -- aren't familiar with cooperative play. Encourage them to ask questions.

Demoing a board game like Witch of Salem can be problematic, but if you have a display area, you have a place to put together a demo. Instead of making a display of a number of different games, use the display to show off Witch of Salem. Set up the game and have it ready to go. Limit the demo to a single turn with interested customers. Once your new copies are gone, offer to sell the demo copy at a reduced price.

Product: Witch of Salem
Maker: Mayfair Games
Stock No.: 3309
MSRP: $49
Availability: Visit Mayfair Games for distributor listings

  • Cooperative game mechanic
  • Strategy-intensive
  • Very challenging and fun
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