Black Sonata: Strange Shadows expansion review – Whence solo you doth played before, new variety can add one more.

What is your substance, whereof are you made, That millions of strange shadows on you tend?

Normally we don’t publish full reviews of Kickstarters, but this expansion was provided to the team in its completed form before launch. Check out the Kickstarter campaign which launched on April 22nd, 2024 using the link at the end of the review.

Black Sonata is back with a brand new expansion in 2024. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the base game, Black Sonata, reviewed here, is a solo hidden movement deduction game where one player is trying to find and figure who is the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Using a stealth deck of cards, the Dark Lady will move about the board while the player uses clues to narrow down her location and attributes.

Strange Shadows is the second expansion for Black Sonata, preceded by the Fair Youth in 2020. Launching on Kickstarter in the Spring of 2024, Strange Shadows adds a number of modules that players can use to alter the rules of the base game and can be used in conjunction with and interchangeably with the modules from the first expansion.

Tarry Cards

These cards can be played by players to prevent the Dark Lady from moving for one turn. The tarry card will remain in the stealth deck, giving players a penalty when it comes back around again. The tarry cards were a nice catch up mechanic when needing to get closer to the Dark Lady. Many times, I would use them towards the end of the game to get closer, faster. A nice little addition to the game.

Extra Fog Cards

These cards add some more variety to the game, allowing for additional cards in the deck to take on some of the harder difficulty levels and bring new options for the game. These fog cards are all positive and can be swapped for some of the negative fog cards that could appear within the base game.

The Darkest Ladies

This module adds a brand new group of ladies and clue cards for players to use. Gone are the suited lady cards, with players instead needing to have all three of the Dark Lady’s traits in the correct order. Players will place one of the Dark Ladies facedown under the board as normal, but a separate clue deck is used throughout the game. Clue cards have holes, similar location cards. When drawing a clue card, players must choose which side to use and then place the Dark Lady on the chosen clue card to get their clues. If a player can correctly find the Dark Lady with all three traits in order, they get a +5 to their final score.

This was one of my favorite additions to the expansion. The complete redesign on the Dark Ladies added a fun challenge. First you have to decide which side of the card will give you the most information. The second challenge was having the symbols not only be correct, but in the proper order. This definitely upped the difficulty. I will say though, I did have to fail a few times and compare notes to fully understand that the maroon clues read like a math problem and had to be used in very specific ways. Altogether a great addition.


This module adds a new type of stealth card that is added during set-up. These cards feature one of two new symbols on the back with different clues to where the Dark Lady may be. One type is a compass rose that indicates the direction she is moving in and the other indicates a color she may be moving to. Players will add ½ a point for each indirection card they apply.

Changing up an already specific stealth deck was something I didn’t think could be done, but the designer added some fun and interesting twists with this one. With different clues, players have to make more strategic guesses when these cards show up in the deck. I was often wary about trying to use the confront actions with these cards, but the more I added to the deck, the more times I had to make some strategic guesses. Another fun challenge.


This module adds another element to the puzzle of finding the Dark Lady. During set up, a blazon card is added face down to the Dark Lady. When you would add a fog card to the stealth deck, you add a face up blazon card instead. When it shows up in the deck again you may collect it and use it to determine the four pieces of the Dark Lady’s crest. You must correctly decipher the four symbols of the crest to access the Dark Lady card to win the game. Winning with this module adds 10 points to your score.

My favorite part of the game is the puzzle portion and this adds another puzzle round to the game. I found that getting some Dark Lady confrontations early was the key to getting the blazonry cards into the deck faster and therefore, getting the clues faster. Adding this module to the base game was easy, but combining it with the more difficult modules can make this a brain burning challenge.

The Ferryman

The Ferryman module changes the way your pawn moves around the board, allowing you to easily move along the Thames to reach locations featuring the boat symbol. However, the location cards will be shuffled and stacked on the current game’s selected clue cards. Players will have to navigate to the locations, in stack order, to unlock the ability to search there. Players are unable to search in any of the boat locations and call the boat if it is not present at their current location. If successful using this module, players will add 10 points to their score.

This module was alright compared to the others. It was definitely a challenge to not be able to search in water locations, but discovering locations in order was a bit annoying. I found the most success with this module on its own. When combining it with some of the more challenging difficulties and modules needing a lot of clues, it tended to be a burden.


Cat and Mouse

This module takes the solo game and turns it into a two-player duel. One player takes on the role of a historian and must successfully find the Dark Lady three times to win. The other player takes up the role of the Dark Lady and will try to visit every location on the map to win. The Dark Lady will move around a hidden map. After moving, or staying put, they must discard location cards or stealth cards matching their current location, giving clues to the historian. The historian has two pawns on the map and may move or search for the Dark Lady at one of their pawns’ locations.

This module is a nice little addition to the Black Sonata franchise. I taught my wife the base game and we tended to play through the puzzles together. With this module, we were able to play a few games of keep away. This module was pretty easy to play and didn’t present the same challenges of the base game and the other modules, but could be a great introduction to hidden movement mechanics for those new to the genre.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this a great addition to the Black Sonata franchise, if only for the Darkest Ladies and the Blazonry modules. Most of the modules add some fun new challenges to the game that can be easily integrated into the base game. When combining different modules, you can really up the challenge, but I felt that one or two, was the sweet spot for my gameplay. One of things I love about this franchise is the ability to scale to your desired difficulty and brain capacity for the evening. I find myself playing this game during the week and sometimes a long day’s work doesn’t lend itself to too much challenge. Set-up a lower difficulty game, replace the bad fog cards with the nice ones, and maybe the Ferryman module and you’ve got a great puzzle. For a night where you’re firing on all cylinders, then choose a Darkest Lady, throw in some Indirection stealth cards, and if you’re feeling really spicy, add the Blazonry module as well! Some of the greatest assets of this game are the quick play time and replayability. Adding in some new modules may add some play time, but makes the replayability even better.

Check out the kickstarter campaign here to get your own copy of Black Sonata: Strange Shadows: Black Sonata: Strange Shadows Kickstarter Page

Lead Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

Dan is an educator from Colorado. Growing up as an Air Force dependent gained him lots of new perspectives on the world and a love for making new friends, especially over a good board game. When not at school or playing a board game, Dan is probably at the gym, attending a local sporting event, or performing or attending theater. Dan loves heavy euros, deck builders, living card games, and great solo rules.



Black Sonata

Review Guidelines

This expansion is a fantastic addition to the Black Sonata franchise and adds modules of varying difficulty. These modules add new challenges, but keep the spirit that made the base game a winner in the first place. A must-add for anyone who loves Black Sonata

Dan Hinkin

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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