You don’t need zombies and swords to make the gentle, mannered works of Jane Austen into an aggressive, free for all. Although, there is an Undead Expansion Pack for Erika Svanoe’s inspired game.
I first found out about Erika’s game while at a local convention. A comic book writer, Michael May, who writes about giant city-destroying monsters and his tweenage son, were enthusiastically playing it after purchasing it there. After watching a few rounds and seeing how Michael’s son, who had not read Pride and Prejudice, had so much fun with the game, I relented to my ten-year-old daughter’s request and bought a copy from Erika herself.
The game doesn’t disappoint. The object of the game, despite the title, is to marry the best match for each character. That isn’t always Mr. Darcy, depending on which of Austen’s female characters you choose to play. This requires sometimes undermining another player or perhaps when things are not going well, to choose to go forth unmarried (and still win the game)! The rules of the game are easy, resulting in fast play. Some rules are left up to interpretation, with the instruction booklet only saying that they must be carried out in a ladylike manner. Meaning, that if everyone agrees that this is how the rule or action should be played, that is perfectly legal.
Most interestingly, players do not have to be fans of Austen or to have read the book to play this game. While someone who has read the book may get a bit more amusement from the gentle, wry pokes at various characters, the person who hasn’t read the book often has an advantage. This is because they are more likely to choose a starting character based on tactical advantage rather than personal feelings about that character in the book. Having no bias towards a character means non-fans of Austen won’t try to avoid certain suitors, such as Collins or Wickham.
The artwork provided by Erik Evensen is well done and fits the game perfectly, even if some people quibble here and there about a depiction of a character. This won’t bother those who do not have a preconceived notion of how the characters look or have never seen a BBC production of the novel.
While the base game is fun alone, there is also the Undead expansion pack which adds some layers of difficulty and comedy to the game. In this add-on, each character gets a weapon and in addition to the goal of the regular game, must handle undead mob attacks and the possibility that their targeted suitor will succumb to the zombie hordes and become undead. In a hilarious twist, it is very possible to win the game while being undead yourself.
This game is a must for Jane Austen fans and highly recommended even for those who have never read any Austen or seen any BBC productions.
More about the game can be found at the website Marrying Mr. Darcy