The Shadow Over Westminster is a cooperative deckbuilding game for 1-4 players. Players each take the role of a member of The Agency, a mysterious group tasked with protecting the world from the Darkness and the impending Cataclysm it brings.
Each player selects a character, each with a unique starting ability and a second ability that can be unlocked later in the game. They also start play with a standard seven card starting deck. As the game progresses and smaller encounters are overcome, Agents will be able to acquire new cards as well as earn larger hand sizes and abilities, all with the hope of saving the world from one of 16 randomly selected Cataclysmic events.
The game feels a little bit like Arkham Horror (or several other Lovecraft themed games), although the game mechanics are completely different, and the scale of the game is much smaller (45-90 minute play time, not all day). Now to be clear, this isn’t a Lovecraft themed game, it just feels like it is. I happen to enjoy creepy weird stuff, so that’s really a positive thing. I also appreciate when the “horror” genre can be dark without being gory.
The game mechanics can take a few rounds to get into the flow. The first time I played, my group missed part of a rule, which meant we actually played on a non-existent easy mode. The rules are well written, but there are a couple important points that, if missed (like we did), can make the game drastically easier or harder for the group. Playing this game reminded me that it’s important to read the rules for any game, and if you find that a game feels off, you should read the rules again before you decide you don’t like it.
As a reviewer, I don’t always have the luxury of playing the same game more than a couple times, and it’s even less likely that I’ll get to replay it after I’ve reviewed it. The Shadow Over Westminster is on my list of games that I enjoyed enough to play again in the future. With luck, we will see a small expansion of some sort in the future, but there are enough Cataclysms to give this a decent amount of replayability even without them.
Originality: 3 / 5
Visual Appeal: 4 / 5
Ease of Play: 4 / 5
Strategic Challenge: 4 / 5
Total expressed as a percentage of the Ultimate Question: 35.7%
You can find CounterClockwork Games online.