Chairman of the Board: Passing the Buck

Illustration by Ed
Illustration by Ed

‘Aye, Dark Overlord!’ game review

By Ed Appleby, Illustrator

The source of all humour is tragedy. And since you’ve failed your boss for the last time, you’d better make it funny!

Aye, Dark Overlord! is a storytelling party game for four to six players originally published by Fantasy Flight Games in 2005. One player takes the role of Dark Overlord and listens to the other players—who play his henchmen—as they try to explain why their last mission failed. Players take turns using cards as clues to explain what happened, or to shift the blame to another player who must continue the story.

If a player stumbles, stalls, or offends the Dark Overlord, the Overlord can distribute a “withering look” card to the player. Once a player receives three “withering looks,” the game ends.

There are similarities between Aye, Dark Overlord! and other storytelling games like Once Upon a Time (1993) or Gloom (2005). Aye, Dark Overlord! sets itself apart by giving the players a reason for telling the story, as well as setting up the game for some very humours moments due to the fun illustrations and subject matter. There are alternate rules for play that involve a scoring system and more solidified rules, but I find it takes away from the enjoyment and chaos of the game in its original form.

Aye, Dark Overlord! is not for everyone. It falls into the category of meta fantasy games such as The Red Dragon Inn (2007) and Munchkin (2001). It’s ideal as a pallet cleanser for more serious fare, such as a long session of Castle Ravenloft (2010) or binge watching a season of Game of Thrones, as long as everyone is in the mood to tell stories.