It’s not lying, it’s being economical with the actualité. Dave Axbey ventures into the murky world of board games where bluff, deception and downright fibbing are the keys to victory.
Your friend says you can’t be trusted; that you’re a traitor.
She’s right. There’s a little card face down in front of you that tells you so. “Traitor”.
So you turn to the others, eyes brimming with sincerity. You’re a little hurt they still suspect you after all this time, you say. We all know who the real bad guy here is, right?
Maybe they buy it, maybe they don’t. And in 10 minutes’ time it’ll be you wrestling with logic; trying to read your fellow players’ minds; hoping that you haven’t put your faith in a dirty rotten traitor. Ignore what mummy tells you, kids – lying is fun.
Or to put in another way, there’s a reason why bluffing and social deduction games with hidden role or traitor mechanics are super popular right now. We covered one of the leaders in the field in this article – The Resistance and its nifty Avalon spin-off – but there are laods more great games begging for table time. Here’s a few that caught our eye…
ONE NIGHT ULTIMATE WEREWOLF
The Werewolf/Mafia family of games aren’t our personal faves, but Suburbia designer Ted Alspach does a brilliant job of turning the classic deduction game of hungry werewolves and angry villagers into a tense, tasty, 10-minute snack. And if ONUW doesn’t hit the spot, check out his new reimplementation One Night Revolution, which takes the game to the world of The Resistance, stirring the two together into a delicious gumbo of suspense.
SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM
“What’s in the bag, m’lord? Only apples! But perhaps I could donate a gold coin or two to spare you the trouble of checking…?” Card game Sheriff Of Nottingham sees players take it in turns to be the titular official, while everyone else brings their goods through the town gate. They may just be honest merchants, making their fortune in fruit and veg, but those sacks could be stuffed full of contraband. Do you let them pass or call their bluff?
A Kickstarted game that isn’t even in stores yet, Secret Hitler has been getting a load of buzz lately – and not just because one of the designers is the creator of Cards Against Humanity. Set in 1930s Germany, the game divides players into two teams: fascists, who want to sweep Hitler to power; and liberals, who are determined to stop his rise. But as you can guess from the game’s name, the good guys don’t actually know who Hitler is…
You’re a spy trying to blend in with everyone. Trouble is, you don’t have a clue where you’re meant to be. Guess right, and you win the game… if you don’t give yourself away first. Your fellow submariners may get suspicious if you tell them how much you enjoy the flying trapeze. Perhaps that peg-legged pirate is a touch out of place in a posh restaurant. Rewarding crafty questions and cagey answers, Spyfall can be one seriously funny game.
A FAKE ARTIST GOES TO NEW YORK
A Japanese party game for 5-11 players, A Fake Artist Goes To New York is the most intriguingly simple drawing game we’ve seen in ages. Each round, the players are given a subject on a card. Play goes around the table twice, with each person drawing one contiguous line to illustrate it. The twist? One of them is a fake, with no idea of what everyone else is trying to draw. Can the others spot the no-good imposter in their midst?
This article originally appeared in MyM Magazine #51. More information here.