Burn in Hell (it’s a game!)

This game is not for the faint of heart!

It’s not a beginner’s game and it’s not something you can convince new-to-gaming friends to enjoy games with. At all. Don’t even try.

What game is it you ask? Let me introduce you to:


Cleopatra. Blackbeard. Attila the Hun. Richard Nixon. John Wilkes Booth.
Collect the souls of the damned! In Burn in Hell, you try to assemble the tastiest “Circles” of history’s sinners. Trade souls with your rivals . . . or just steal the ones you need. Collect groups of Mass Murderers, Cannibals, or even Clerics . . . or build sets of the Seven Deadly Sins. Burn in Hell will keep you on your toes . can you see the sets that fit together for the most points? Can you steal a rival’s key card before he can make a Circle?

116375Burn In Hell is designed by Steve Jackson, with artwork by Greg Hyland and Philip Reed. It was also published by Steve Jackson Games. Burn In Hell came out in 2004 and can be played with 2-5 players though it is recommended that you play with 3-4. Suggested ages are 12+ and it has a playing time of 1+ hours.

Game play:

Besides the theme this game is not for the faint of heart, because it is not the easiest game to master. The rules, while they may read somewhat straightforward, aren’t really that straightforward and it takes reading through it a couple of times to really understand what you’re doing.

The concept is simple. You and your fellow demons are hell bent on getting the very best souls in your circle. Whether you steal them, or trade for them, at whatever cost – you’re aiming for the best. As simply put the game goes as follows:

Hell starts off at 100 C and every time a soul is cast into the pit the temperature of hell decreases by the value of that soul (ranging from 2-10). When hell freezes over the game is done. Hell’s temperature drops with every player so you’re scrambling to get points while you can. How do you get points? By making circles of souls. Circles are created by matching one or more of the following:

  • Sins committed (you’ve your choice of seven deadly sins)
  • Tags (such as tycoon or emperor)
  • Value
  • And you can create a circle by matching seven souls – one for each sin.

Circles must have a least four souls and can go up, the more cards you have in a circle the more points you get as you add the cards value and then either double, triple or quadruple that based on how many souls you have in the circle. Some souls will also earn you more points if you can get them in the same circle – such as Bonnie and Clyde. JFK and Monroe.

Some sample cards – notice the tags, value, and sins. Some have special abilities.

It seems pretty straightforward so far, and during your turn it is also pretty straightforward – draw three cards, sacrifice one to the pit…. and then chaos ensues! Players at anytime can be making trades, burning cards, or using their special abilities. So your cards are never safe – UNLESS you call out circle. Once you call circle you can form your circle, and no one can attack your cards until you’re done. If you can’t make a circle after you’ve called it though, you’ll lose points.

Check out some images of our game play:

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Wrap up:

If you can figure out the rules and game play, then it’s in my opinion an enjoyable game. I’ve played in a group and this time I played with one other person only – while you can play two players, it’s better with a group.

Some things to note – if you haven’t figured it out already some might find this game fairly offense. In fact there is a note in the rule book that excuses an offense people may have with finding their favorite historical figure cast into the pits of hell.  For me personally I think it’s an amusing concept. What I really like about it though, is that it’s not just got humorous caricatures but it also has detailed biographies of each person on the back of their card. See the example below:

So really you could learn a lot from this game! I personally enjoy it, I like the concept, the art, and the biographies offered, I also like the game play – though I’ve never played it with rambunctious people. I am sure it could get very chaotic with the out-of-turn play available given the right group of people!

Until next time,



http://www.sjgames.com/burninhell/  – Check out the game’s main page at SJgames.com

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/11416/burn-hell – Or get a good look at it and what others have to say at BoardgameGeek.com

*Note this game is also out of print so if you are interested in it you may have to do some hunting!imp1


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