Episode 154: Dead Man’s Cabal

Click here for the direct download link for this week’s episode

1) The Pegs discuss their recent gameplays including: Funkoverse, Ragusa, Point Salad and more;

2) All the Pegs review the action selection game Dead Man’s Cabal; and

3) Look back at a tile-laying suite: Gunkimono, Spring Meadow, and Expancity.

Join in the conversation for this episode over at our Board Game Geek guild

Show Notes

00:00:57 – Trivia

00:06:12 – Patrick’s gone – what now?
00:15:41 – Penelope and Tabletop Gaming Club
00:22:13 – Washingcon Preview
00:24:50 – Camping Trip
00:22:30 – Dead Last and Improv Group Sharing


00:30:00Ragusa [Buy]Capstone Games, Designer: Fabio Lopiano, Art: Bartlomiej Roczniak

00:37:53Watergate [Buy]Capstone Games, Designer: Matthias Cramer, Art: Klemens Franz, Alfred Viktor Schulz

00:47:30Funkoverse the Strategy Game [Buy]Funko, Designer: Prospero Hall

00:54:14Dual Powers: Revolution 1917 [Buy]Thunderworks Games, Designer: Brett Myers, Art: Luis Francisco, Kwanchai Moriya

01:00:32Point Salad [Buy]AEG, Designers: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich, Art: Dylan Mangini

01:04:47 – The Shipwreck Arcana [Buy]Meromorph Games, Designer: Kevin Bishop, Art: Matthew Bishop


01:15:00 – Spiel de Jahres winner – Just One [Buy];
01:17:15 – Azul: Summer Pavilion [preorder];
01:21:30 – Roll and Write Madness: Uno and Blokus

Dead Man’s Cabal [Buy]

01:24:56 – Rules Breakdown

Dead Man’s Cabal is a 2 to 4 player game designed by Daniel Newman and published by Pandasaurus Games in 2019. In Dead Man’s Cabal, players take on the roles of lonely necromancers throwing a party, competing to summon the most interesting spirits of the dead for the evening festivities.  The winner is the necromancer who collects the most victory points through summoned ritual cards and by holding the majority in one or more end-game conditions.

Each player starts the game with two Ritual cards, representing spirits that can be summoned, and a collection of cubes in their player color.  These cubes are used to indicate majorities in end game scoring and in other actions on the board.

Dead Man’s Cabal is driven by an innovative action selection mechanism using plastic skulls in four different colors, each color corresponding to an action space on the board.  A player’s turn consists of two actions: a private action and a public action. The active player starts their turn by drawing a random skull from a bag, then placing that skull at the front of one of three rows on the Ossuary board, each row in turn consisting of three skulls drawn at random at the start of the game.  When the skull is placed, it bumps the skulls in the row forward, and the player claims the skull that falls off the end into their supply. Then, they choose a skull from their supply and take the corresponding action as their private action that only they get to complete.

It’s important to note here that the skulls used to select actions are the same skulls used as a resource in completing rituals, forcing players to make careful choices between the actions they take and the rituals they want to complete.

The subsequent public action is determined by the three skulls that now form the central column of the three rows of Ossuary board: whichever color is in the majority determines the public action taken by all players, starting with the active player, with various rules to break ties and avoid repeating the same private action two turns in a row.

The heart of the game is summoning spirits through the use of Ritual cards.  Ritual cards each have a victory point value, a set of skull quantities and colors needed to summon them, and Rune requirements that may be met when the Ritual is complete.

Summoning takes place on the Sanctum board.  Here, players will place skulls collected over the course of the game onto spaces connected by a series of lines.  Completing a ritual requires being able to trace an unbroken line from skull to skull – either skulls you placed or skulls placed by an opponent – as determined by the set on the ritual card.  In addition, when a Ritual is successfully completed, players have the option to place Rune tokens they have collected earlier in the game onto the Ritual card. Placing of Rune tokens is critical as this determines majorities in several end-game scoring conditions.  At the end of a Summoning phase, a certain number and color of skulls are removed from the board as determined by the rituals completed this round.

There are more actions available than I’m describing here, and I’ve glossed over the dynamics of public vs. private actions, blocking other players on the Sanctum board, and the femur-based currency of the game, but we will touch on these during the Gameplay section of our review.

Dead Man’s Cabal is played until someone has completed their seventh ritual or run out of cubes, at which point each player – including the one who triggered the end-game, takes one more turn before final scores are tallied.

01:28:26 – Discussion
01:52:46 – Rating

Reroll – Gunkimono, Spring Meadow, Expancity

02:00:00 – Reroll Song

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