Stats at a glance
Ages: 9 +
To many people, this is a game of pure ‘90s nostalgia. Spending many hours as kids trying to keep their character alive by trying to out bluff your friends. What a great time!
13 Dead End Drive is a classic roll-the-dice and move game from the ’90s in which everything depends on chance. Read the full 13 Dead End Drive Review below.
Brief Overview of 13 Dead End Drive
The premise of the game is that rich Aunt Agatha has passed away with no relatives, but now her friends and cat (yes, her cat!) have to figure out who will get the inheritance before the detective arrives to read the last will and testament! There are a few ways of winning – mainly by surviving.
It is a 2-4 player game that has you moving more than one token at a time, trying to maneuver others into the traps! What fun! There is a portrait above the fireplace which indicates who is the current favorite to win, but the trick is to get out of the house before the portrait changes!
What really separates this game from other board games we see today is the way traps are activated. This is a 3D board game where you can physically activate the traps and see what happens to the character token. It is so much fun to see it, instead of just imagining it!
Unboxing 13 Dead End Drive
One of the most exciting things about getting a new game is getting it out of the box! The visual style is really classic for the ’90s and should bring back a few memories for sure. You can already see on the box the assortment of friends Aunt Agatha had.
There is a 25th-anniversary edition that’s come out that has managed to keep the style of the game but using newer materials – think thicker cardboard and better color printing. In the box you’ll get the following:
- Classic rulebook
- Character pop out cards
- 3D Room Pieces
- Plastic Trap Pieces
- Playing Cards
How to Play 13 Dead End Drive
Preparing for the game is pretty simple, you will need to build the board as shown by the figure in the rulebook – puzzle skills required! Then place all the cards in their respective places. There are red chairs marked out as the characters’ starting locations. The detective gets placed on his starting point – he moves one space every turn until finally arrives to read the will. This means a game will have a max of 13 turns.
There are trap, character, and portrait cards that must be shuffled and placed. The trap cards are drawn when moving on the trap spaces – shown clearly by the skull and crossbones. When drawn, they do not need to be played immediately. There is a bit of strategy required after all!
The portrait cards are shuffled and placed face down so that when the portrait gets changed it is completely random and no one has control of that.
The character cards are shuffled and handed out to the players until none are left. The character cards must be kept a secret!
Gameplay is not complicated at all and great fun! Each player will take a turn by rolling two dice. The dice show how many spaces the pawns can move – one die for each pawn. A player must move two pawns unless they throw a double, in which case they can move one pawn with all the points. Oh, and if you throw doubles, you can even change the portrait – this happens a lot!
Now the fun and mysterious part of the game: you can move ANY two pawns when it is your turn! Using your character cards and the moves of the pawns by other players, you can try and figure out which character will be the heir! You can even eliminate pawns by moving them onto the trap spaces. The movement of the pawns is very similar to Clue – forwards and sideways, but never diagonally.
When moving a pawn onto a trap, you then draw a trap card and if it matches the trap, you can use it to eliminate the character. If the trap card doesn’t match the trap, it can be kept for later. The important things to remember are that two cards can’t be drawn on one turn and each card must be used on one pawn before moving on to the next pawn’s actions.
Pros & Cons
- Gameboard elements are interactive
- Just the right amount of randomness
What really sets this game apart is the trap element – physically activating it and seeing the results. You will have so much fun trying to activate them, and this feeling is increased if you do it to another player’s character!
The element of randomness due to the dice and not knowing the identity of other players is just fantastic fun. You never know what will happen next.
- Game style is a bit out of date
- The number of people that can play
The style of this game is quite different from modern games, which is understandable as it was made in 1993. So, knowing this, it may not appeal to everyone.
Another slight drawback is the number of people that can play – a maximum of four. This would really limit the opportunities to play if there are more than 4 people.
Overall, this is a fun and light game. It has a slight element of silliness to it that makes it a perfect game for families – families of four or less that is. There will be a lot of laughter in watching the traps get activated and seeing people’s faces when it happens.
This game might not appeal to everyone and that’s fine. It fits into the gap of nostalgia and younger families exceptionally well. It’s not a game that you would bring out on a game night with friends very easily, though. It’s great fun and will be sure to bring out some smiles when playing. It’s also great for Halloween!
We hope you enjoyed our 13 Dead End Drive review! We’d love to hear your thoughts on this classic game of bluffing fun. Drop a comment below!
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Kendra has always been a hardcore fantasy nerd. Growing up in the worlds of Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, and Abercrombie, DnD & board games just came naturally. She and her husband, Bryan, started GameCows.com in 2018 as a fun passion project that just took over their lives. An avid board gamer since childhood and chronic DnD chronicler for more than two decades, she loves to play, write, travel, and learn dead languages.