Dawn Under

Another review on my Finnish site: Dawn Under or Dicke Luft in der Gruft.

Dawn Under is a delightful game of putting vampires to rest before the dawn. The thick, double-layered board has sixty graves covered with headstones made of thick cardboard. Each headstone has one of six colours in it’s bottom. Players must find graves that match the colours of their vampires.

As the colours are printed on the bottom of the headstones, the only way to find out is to peek under them. If the colour matches one of two vampires players have in the ends of their vampire rows, the vampire goes in the grave and player gets another go. If the colour doesn’t match or the grave is already occupied, turn ends there. The player who runs out of vampires first wins the game.

As you can derive from that description, Dawn Under is a memory game. There’s more to it than most memory games (for example, unlike most other memory games, this one gets harder instead of easier towards the end), but the only skill one needs is memory. It is therefore very good game for families, as it’s usually the kids who have the advantage when short-term memory is in question. Dawn Under is such a fun game that even experienced gamers should find it interesting. At least the strong memory element is rather unusual.

The game is simple, but there are some interesting complications. Players have stock of three garlic cards, which can be inserted into empty graves with unmatching colour. If player hits garlic, he or she gets a vampire from the player who placed the garlic. Opening an occupied grave scores a stake for the unlucky player. When someone has three stakes, each player gets to give them a vampire. Same happens, when someone opens a grave with their own garlic in it.

There are also rat tiles, allowing players to open several graves. I don’t like the rats, as the rules concerning them are an ugly blemish on an otherwise elegant ruleset. I find the rats add very little to the game, but fortunately it’s very easy not to use them.

Even though the theme of the game is vampires (a good theme well implemented here), it’s perfectly suitable for kids. Game art is very friendly and cartoony and the beautifully thick board is covered with funny little details. The game is fun to play, offering lots of excitement that grows as the game progresses and finding empty graves gets harder and harder. This one’s a keeper in my collection and definitely worth trying.

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