About this project
Salem is a strategic card game of deception, built for 4-12 Players. It is most suited for players aged 12-93. Estimated game time is 25-35 minutes.
- 1 Faux Book Container
- 111 Cards (15 Town Hall, 36 Tryal, 59 Playing, 1 Moderator Script)
- 1 Thirty-second Hourglass
- 1 Instruction Manual (Includes character biographies)
- 14 Circle Tokens
WELCOME TO SALEM
The year is 1692, and it is a perilous time to live in the town of Salem, Massachusetts. One wrong step, or one misplaced accusation, and you could be the next witch to hang. "Salem" takes players into this perilous world and lets them re-live the tension, politics, and religious extremism that still has people talking about it 300 years later.
The game is packaged in a faux book box that closes magnetically. The game, disguised as a worn out leather book, can easily hide on your bookshelf and masquerade as an antique.
Players can play as prominent villagers from the old Salem town, and even read their bios in the instruction manual. The servant girl Mary Warren, pastor Samuel Parris, farmer John Proctor, storyteller Tituba, and beggar Sarah Good are some of the 12 characters featured in the game.
Players, each acting as one of these unique characters, are given 3-5 Tryal cards (depending on the number of players). These Tryal cards reveal the true identity of each player, "Witch" or "Not a Witch."
During gameplay, players gather cards that they use to accuse, or defend, other players. Deciding who to trust is key to survival, since you can never play a card on yourself. When you suspect someone to be a witch, you can begin accusing them with red accusation cards. When enough accusations have been placed on one of the players, the player who lays the final accusation chooses one of that player's Tryal cards to reveal. Once all "Witch" Tryal cards have been found, the villagers of Salem win.
Players can also use green and blue cards such as "Alibi", "Stocks", "Matchmaker", "Asylum", and "Scapegoat" to help or hurt their allies or enemies.
As players draw cards, they will eventually draw black cards that take immediate effect. One black card, "Night", forces all players to close their eyes while the Witches choose someone to eliminate and the Constable chooses someone to potentially save. The other black card, "Conspiracy," forces all players to take a face-down Tryal card from the player to their left. Killing witches quickly is essential, otherwise "Conspiracy" may soon have the whole town turned evil.
Before long, accusations will be flying, and screams of "She's a WITCH!" will wake the neighbors. Will you be the hero who purges your town of witches, or will you be wrongly accused and hung for witchcraft? Or perhaps you will be a witch yourself, escape conviction, and bring Salem to the ground.
TOWN HALL CARDS
TRYAL CARDS (note the old spelling)
FAUX BOOK, HOURGLASS
"Salem is an awesome group game and never gets old! Every game you assume different roles, and with the design of the game, things are constantly changing. Right when you think you know who the witches are, cards start getting passed around. The game Salem requires strategy and teamwork. You will really get to know your friends." -Jayson Jensen, Computer Guy
"Salem has just the right amount of challenge so that it makes you think and strategize at how to win. Anyone who likes Mafia or games that involve moderately sized groups of people playing to the death will love this game! It's a great game to play with a good group of friends at a party or after dinner. Super fun and I totally recommend it!!" -Mary Nichols, Music Major
"Your friends may become your enemies, your enemies may become your friends, but you can never be sure. Besides being a ton of fun to play, Salem is also a visually stunning game which sets it apart from other mystery games. I give it 5 stars.” -Ben Nielsen, Social Media Guru
"What an incredible game! I want to play it over and over again because each game presents new and exciting challenges. I love that it accommodates a small group of friends in addition to a big crowd which makes it perfect for any event. Once the game is over, you won't be able to stop talking about it." -Whitney Jensen, School Teacher
HOW TO PLAY
Rules Note: Full instructions and further clarifications are included in the Game's instruction manual. Of our hundreds of play-testers, each felt that the game was very easy to learn and each felt quite knowledgable of the rules after their first game.
Moderator Note: Since we hit our $55K stretch goal, tokens have been added to each game, allowing for each game to be played with, or without a Moderator.
Demo Note: Here we show 4 players, although up to 12 players can play. The demo does not show the use of tokens, since these were recently added as a stretch goal to better accommodate games without a Moderator. The tokens do not change gameplay.
The video may not show this clearly, but at the beginning of the game the witches see who each other are when the Black Cat is played. They also see each other when they eliminate someone during the Night. A big part of the witches' advantage and deception comes from their extra knowledge about who everyone is.
Strategies: The townspeople try to find the witches based on how people are acting (some people are good liars, some people are not!), how people are treating each other (since the witches have a secret alliance with each other), who people are playing cards on, whether witches themselves choose to confess after the Night, etc. Players can also analyze who was given the black cat and who was killed during the night and why. Also, since the first law of Salem says that you can never play a card on yourself, the only way to play the game is with allies. You can't win the game without trusting someone else. So a lot of the game is about you individually choosing who to place your trust in.
There's also an element of the shell game involved- if I am a witch, would I put my witch card closest to my neighbor or near the middle? Did I move the Tryal card I got from Conspiracy to a new location in front of me or keep it in the same spot? Where should I put my Witch card so that my neighbor will be most likely to grab it during Conspiracy and join me as a witch?
There's also an element of deck management. If everyone holds on to their cards, then when the deck runs out and the discard pile gets re-shuffled, Night and Conspiracy are going to happen again very soon, since the new deck is so small. It's in the townspeople's best interest to move quickly. It's in the witches' best interest to run through the deck and hold on to their cards.
In Mafia/Werewolves the only data points you have are how people are acting. In Salem, you have more data points to go off of, since you can analyze how people are acting, and what cards they are playing on who. There's also a hint of logic with tracking the Tryal cards as they move around the circle. As a person's Tryal cards get revealed, and they keep coming up "Not a Witch", they develop a stronger and stronger alibi and become a less desirable target.
Feel like we missed something? Check the "Nitty Gritties" section in the FAQs below. The Nitty Gritties section will be included in the rulebook, and should settle any disputes.
Looking for some advanced rules? This is also in the FAQ. It contains ideas for making the game more challenging, and tips for being sneaky with token-placement when you don't have a moderator.
Want to read the moderator script? It's in the FAQ.
$1-$9 Thank you for your support!
$10 An emailed PDF of the cards, ready for printing
$25 THE GAME (Free Shipping in US)
$45 2 Copies of THE GAME (Free Shipping in US) - Salem makes a great gift!
$68 3 Copies of THE GAME (Free Shipping in US)
$100 4 Copies of THE GAME (Free Shipping) + 5 pinback buttons + special thanks in the instruction manual
$229 10 Copies of THE GAME
$500 10 Copies of THE GAME (Free Shipping) + 20 pinback buttons + very special thanks in the instruction manual + dinner with the game creators (if within a 100 mile radius within the next year)
$2,000 15 Copies of THE GAME (Free Shipping) + 20 pinback buttons + very special thanks in the instruction manual + Your name and face (drawn by our illustrator) will be used for an "Out-of-Towner" Town Hall Card added to the game and included in each deck
WE RAISED $10,000: All backers of $23 or more will receive the extra role card of Cotton Mather, Revivalist
WE RAISED $15,000: All backers of $23 or more will receive the extra role card of Martha Corey, Housewife
WE RAISED $25,000: All backers of $23 or more will receive the extra role card of William Phipps, Governor
WE RAISED $45,000: Re-design of instruction booklet, iincluding several "advanced rules" in the back, for players who want to play with some extra challenges.
WE RAISED $55,000: Kill/Save Tokens. This stretch goal adds 14 small tokens to each game. This allows all games to be played without a moderator!
WE RAISED $65,000: Each deck will include 3 replacement Tryal cards for lost/damaged cards. We'll include a "WITCH" card, as well as two blank cards for people to write in the needed role, or to invent their own rotating role.
WE RAISED $75,000: Each deck will include a replacement green and blue playing deck card, each with unique artwork from our illustrator. These cards can be used to replace lost/damaged cards, or to invent your own new deck cards.
WE RAISED $85,000: Each Kickstarter backer will receive an acrylic sticker, exclusively for Kickstarter backers. Stickers can be placed inside of the book box, proving that you were an original Salem backer.
If you have ordered at least one copy of the game (pledged $23 or more), and you would also like a print-and-play version of the game, eight pinback buttons of the Salem logo, or both:
1. Click on "Manage" next to your pledge amount.
2. Increase your pledge by $5 to add the print-and-play version, increase by $4 for eight pinback buttons, or increase by $9 for both. Do not change your originally-selected reward.
3. After funding has completed, I'll send out a survey to all backers who are exactly $4, $5, and $9 above a reward level, confirming your selected add-on. Those who added the print-and-play will receive it in July. Those who ordered the buttons will receive them when the games ship to our backers.
Please message me with questions.
A great game (in our opinion), needs three things: solid mechanics, an awesome theme, and great design.
Growing up, I always loved playing "Mafia" at family reunions. It was the best kind of game- one that involved reading other people and hiding your own role from people who knew you very well. It was a challenge. Over time I grew frustrated over several aspects of the mafia game. There wasn't an official structure to the game, the game always required a moderator, someone always had to die right at the beginning, rounds could drag on forever, there was no way to partially accuse someone, etc. Salem aims to right these wrongs while still bringing forth a new game that captures the essence of the Mafia spirit.
We have also enjoyed games such as "Bang", "Ticket to Ride", "Betrayal at House on the Hill", and "Werewolf" and have brought the best parts of each of these games into "Salem," while also adding completely new game mechanics. Every round of play-testing led to more and more tweaking, adding, and eliminating. We're very happy with the end result.
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. Something about the theatricality and intent to frighten just seems to heighten the stakes. We felt that the Salem Witch Trials captures this feeling perfectly. The old Protestant strictness, the spooky northeast, and a cast of characters that has been studied and been made larger than life through pop culture take this game beyond the mechanics and into the imagination.
For whatever reason, "witch hunting" has become a common phrase in our everyday life, in news stories, and in politics. We felt that using the most famous example of witch hunting would naturally lend itself to a game like this one. The accusations, defenses, and instinct of self-preservation that can be found in the history of Salem seemed to be the perfect setting for our game.
The illustrations from Sarah Keele and the graphic design from Holly will take you into the world of Salem, just as a piece of literature, music, or film would do. We used a lot of browns and textures, to make it feel like entering a world of dirt roads, wooden churches, and town squares.
For the characters and card illustrations, Sarah employed a crosshatch method to give the characters dimension while still retaining the texture consistent with the game. In the graphic design, Holly used Old-Style fonts, reimagined the city seal of Salem, and used a 17th century quilting pattern across many of the card backgrounds.
WHAT WILL THE KICKSTARTER FUNDS BE USED FOR?
If we reach our goal, Holly and I will be able to pay for the manufacturing and shipping of the first edition of faux books, card decks, hourglasses, and instruction manuals. We already have our manufacturers (Yifeng Packaging, Panda Manufacturing) lined up and ready to go! We just need to raise the funds and say go!
This first edition will turn one of our long-loved projects into something that our friends, families, and backers can enjoy.
FOR ALL GAME RETAIL STORE OWNERS:
We understand that demand for Salem in game stores will be very high right when the game first gets into the hands of our backers. If you would like to reserve the right to purchase Salem copies at a special retail rate, please send me a direct message that includes your store website, email, and how many copies you'd like me to hold for you.
A couple of weeks before we ship games to our backers, I'll make sure that you still want the games you've reserved, take payment, and ship them to you soon after we've shipped the games to backers.
Game Creation and Graphic Design by Travis and Holly Hancock.
Illustrations drawn by Sarah Keele. Her portfolio can be viewed at: http://sarahmillerstration.weebly.com/
Photography by Sarah Lisle. Her website can be viewed at: http://sarahlislephotography.pixieset.com/
Risks and challenges
We guarantee the timely completion of this project. We will do everything in our power to ensure on-time delivery, and we will reach out concerning any unforeseen circumstances. Currently our manufacturers (Yifeng Packaging, Panda Manufacturing) are lined up and just waiting for the green light once we are funded. Please never hesitate to contact us directly with comments, concerns, suggestions, or jokes.
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