Back in 1993 Milton Bradley/Parker Brothers created the board game 13 Dead End Drive which was a moderately successful family roll and move deduction game. Nine years later someone thought that 13 Dead End Drive needed a reboot and the game 1313 Dead End Drive was created. 1313 Dead End Drive retains the overall feel of 13 Dead End Drive while tweaking some of the mechanics to make a more straightforward/simpler game. When you first start playing 1313 Dead End Drive it feels like an interesting twist on your typical roll and move game and has the potential to be a good game. One fatal flaw pretty much destroys the entire game though.
How to Play
Assemble the gameboard. Place one heir pawn on each red chair in the center of the gameboard. Take the will board and place money tokens on the spaces as follows: four tokens on Spritzy, two tokens on Sedgwick, and one token on the rest of the heirs. Separate the cards into the two decks (playing cards and heirs) and shuffle each separately. Before shuffling the playing card deck remove the Clock Strikes Midnight card as this card will be placed at the bottom of the shuffled deck. Deal the heir cards out to the players as follows:
- 2 players: 6 cards to each player
- 3 players: 5 cards to each player
- 4 players: 4 cards to each player.
Players look at their heir cards but don’t let the other players see them.
All of the players roll one dice with the player who rolled the highest number getting to go first.
On a player’s turn they can take up to three different actions:
- Roll and Move
- Draw Cards
- Play Cards
The first thing a player does on their turn is to roll the dice. The player will use each die to move a different pawn. If the player rolls doubles they can use both dice on the same pawn. Players can move any pawn even if they don’t have the heir card for that pawn. The pawn has to be moved the full count of the roll except when they are moving a pawn out of the mansion.
Other movement rules are as follows:
- Pawns can move horizontally or vertically but not diagonally.
- You cannot move a pawn through or onto a space occupied by another pawn.
- You cannot move a pawn onto a space that contains furniture other than the red chairs around the table in the middle of the gameboard.
- A pawn can be moved back and forth as many times as you want in a given turn.
- If a pawn is moved onto a secret passage space, the pawn can move to any other secret passage space. Moving through a secret passage counts as two spaces (landing on the first secret passage space and moving to the other secret passage space).
- Trap spaces can only be moved onto from an arrow space.
When a player moves a pawn onto a trap space (indicated by footprints), the player gets to draw one of the playing cards. If the player moves two pawns onto a trap space they get to take two cards. This is done after a player has moved the pawns so the player is unable to keep moving a pawn off and onto a trap space in order to take multiple cards.
At the end of a player’s turn they can play cards that they have in their hand. There are five different types of playing cards.
- Room: The player can move any pawn to any unoccupied space in the room shown on the card. The pawn can even be moved onto a trap space.
- Take a New Heir: The player chooses another player to steal a heir card from. The player randomly draws one of the heir cards from the chosen player.
- Run for It!: When played the player rolls one die and can move any pawn the number of spaces rolled.
- Trap: These cards can only be played if a pawn is on one of the traps pictured on the card. This springs the trap killing the pawn on the trap.
- Wild Trap: The player can spring any of the traps that a pawn is on.
On a player’s turn they can play as many trap and wild trap cards as they want and they can play one Room, Take a New Heir or Run for It! cards.
Killing A Heir
When a heir is killed by one of the traps, the pawn is removed from the game. The player that held that heir card reveals it and it is removed from the game.
The players then slide all of the money from the heir that was killed down to the next heir still in the game following the arrows on the will board.
Escaping the Mansion
If a pawn is moved out the front door, that heir is safe. The player who holds the corresponding heir card reveals it and takes all of the money for that heir from the will board. That heir is removed from the game and can no longer receive money from the will board.
End of Game
The game ends in one of two ways:
- A player draws the Clock Strikes Midnight card.
- The last pawn on the gameboard escapes or is killed.
Players count up the amount of money they retrieved from the mansion. The player with the most money wins the game.
While 1313 Dead End Drive might look like a simple roll and move game, it actually plays more like a deduction/bluffing game mixed with a roll and move game. A lot of people would probably compare it to a game like Clue. The game doesn’t have a central mystery like Clue but you need to deduce who controls the heir cards for the different heirs in the game in order to prevent them from letting that heir escape.
The most interesting mechanic in the game is the will board. This is actually a pretty clever idea in that you are trying to kill heirs that are ahead of your own heirs so their money falls to your heirs. This does add a little luck to the game based on what heirs you are dealt at the beginning of the game. It might seem like you want the heirs at the top of the board but the opposite is actually true. First the heirs at the top of the board are the biggest targets since they are worth the most money at the beginning of the game. The bottom of the board is where most of the money ends up though since all of the top heirs will be killed off and the money will continue to trickle down the board. Luck could be a big deciding factor in the game if a player is stuck with a lot of heirs at the top of the board since they will get killed off before they can actually get any money out of the mansion. Other than the mechanic adding some card draw luck into the game, I really like it. It adds to the deduction element of the game since you don’t know who is going to be targeting your heirs hoping to kill them off so they get your money. This makes for a more compelling game than a lot of roll and move games.
One thing in 1313 Dead End Drive that is a little questionable is the theme. Basically in 1313 Dead End Drive you are helping people kill off other people to get more money. There aren’t a lot of family games where you are helping people get away with murder. The game deals with it a lighthearted way and it really isn’t that prevalent if you don’t really think about what you are actually doing. It is kind of sad though when the dog and cat can get burned to death in the fireplace. Most people probably won’t have an issue with the game’s theme but I can see some people having issues with a family game where you murder people.
For the most part the components are pretty nice. The gameboard looks quite nice when it is all set up. The game does take a while to set up though. Even though I think the game takes too long to setup, I find it satisfying setting off the different traps in the game. The components aren’t fantastic but they are pretty good for a Parker Brothers/Milton Bradley game.
If I stopped the review at this point 1313 Dead End Drive would get a pretty good rating since the game has a lot going for it. 1313 Dead End Drive has a huge issue though that almost ruins the entire game. The problem is that it is way too hard to actually get anyone out of the mansion. It is too easy to kill off heirs since all but one player are going to want to kill off every heir. This means that players don’t have a lot of control over any given heir in the game. There are only three ways that anyone can escape the house.
First an heir can escape the house if no one notices it heading towards the front door. This will rarely ever happen though since there are no traps near the entrance so when a pawn moves towards an exit it is pretty obvious who wants that pawn to escape. Unless you control the card for a pawn I don’t see any reason why you would move the pawn towards the exit since you are just helping another player score points. Since only one player is going to want them to escape, when an heir tries to escape all of the other players can just move them back towards a trap and kill them before a player can get them out of the mansion.
The second and most likely way to get a pawn out of the mansion is with luck. Basically the only way you escape is to roll double sixes while having a Run For It card in your hand. If you also roll a high number with the extra die roll you could possibly make it out of the mansion. The problem is that the only reason you are getting a pawn out is because of luck and not because of your own strategy. Whoever gets luckiest at the right time will usually end up winning the game.
The final and most depressing way is through apathy. Eventually some players may just let one of the last pawns leave so the game doesn’t end with every player getting $0. Basically this only occurs when the players are sick of the tug of war of the players moving the pawn back and forth from the exit.
With these being the only real options of getting pawns out of the mansion, the game will regularly end with no players getting any money. There is a significant flaw in the game if most games will end in a draw. With it being so easy to kill off the heirs, a lot of the game’s potential is ruined. There is little deduction in the game since players might as well send all of the other player’s pawns to the traps since they will eventually all get killed. Since you really can’t sneak pawns out of the mansion there is little point is hiding which pawns are yours because all of them will be likely killed at some point.
1313 Dead End Drive also has some problems that arise from the ability to backtrack. This makes it way too easy to get pawns on trap spaces to draw cards. Basically with any number rolled higher than one, you can move a pawn that was already on a trap back onto the same trap which allows you to draw another card. This feels kind of cheap and makes it way too easy to draw cards. In a game I played a couple pawns just sat on traps which everyone moved back onto the same traps to draw more cards.
Another problem with the game relates to the strength of the different cards you can draw. By far the most rigged card in the game is the Take a Heir card. This card lets you steal potential victory points from the other players. There really isn’t a reason to play the card early either since you might as well wait to use the card until there are few survivors remaining or one of the heirs are close to escaping. The wild trap card is also really powerful since it lets you kill any pawn that is on a trap. The room cards are also powerful since you can put any pawn on a trap and put them in danger of being killed off. The Run for It! card is not very valuable though. Only being able to roll one die is not that valuable. The only real use for it is when you roll double sixes which might actually let you get a heir out of the house.
I really wanted to enjoy 1313 Dead End Drive. The game has a lot of interesting mechanics and had the potential to be a good roll and move game. The problem with 1313 Dead End Drive though is that it is just too easy to kill the heirs which means players have to get lucky in order to get anyone out of the house. This pretty much ruins the whole experience since the game’s interesting mechanics rarely play a role in the game’s outcome. 1313 Dead End Drive just doesn’t live up to its’ potential which is sad because I believe the game could have been good. Maybe some house rules could fix some of these problems but without them the game feels broken.
If you don’t really like roll and move games, 1313 Dead End Drive is not going to be for you. If you like roll and move games though and like the game’s premise the game shows promise but you will need to be willing to create some house rules that fix some of the game’s problems. If you could find the game for cheap it may be worth picking up.
If you would like to purchase 1313 Dead End Drive you can purchase it on Amazon.