Few things bring my groups of friends and family together like a night of good, ole’ fashioned social deception board games. Werewolf, Resistance, Secret Hitler and a few other social deduction games really gets the blood pumping on a school night. Besides, do you really want to do yet another movie night when you can ultimately deliver an evening of scheming, manipulation, debate, persuasion, and prove your instincts right using logic and intuition?
Here we’ve compiled 8 of our favorite board games that are a great addition to any social gathering.
1 – Avalon
This game, also known as Resistance: Avalon, is a 5 to 10 player game designed and created by Dan Eskeridge. In my opinion, it is played best with at least 5 to 6 players. The game takes about 30 minutes and is simple to set up, thought not as simple as The Resistance.
Players are separated into two teams. One team is blue and made up of Loyal Servants to King Arthur. The other team, red, is comprised of Mordred’s Minions. The assignments are random, so you won’t know which team you’ll end up on, and your role card remains face down until the game ends.
The goal of the blue team is to complete 3 successful quests, however, since none of the Loyal Servants know which team any of the players are on, one can see how that may be difficult. Players must use all information possible to determine who is who, while at the same time, trying not to reveal their character. At the end, should the Loyal Servants team succeed, there is still one last chance for Mordred Minions to reclaim the win! Check Price – Avalon.
2 – Werewolf
This classic game, of which there are many variations and expansions requires a minimum of 7 players. Odd numbers are best as players will pick cards dividing them, for example, into 2 Werewolves, 1 Seer, 1 Doctor, and 3 Villagers. One player will also moderate the game amongst the players.
The day is split into Nighttime and Daytime rounds. During the day, players may nominate and second a player to be put on trial. Once on trial, the accused player will have 90 seconds to defend themselves, and players can also ask the accusers why so and so were selected. Following a fixed amount of time, the whole Village votes on whether to lynch or save the werewolf. Upon death, the player’s role is immediately revealed.
At Night, the werewolves are unleashed and may choose a villager to kill. The moderator will take note whom they have picked for when the Village awakens. The rounds continue in this way, and special roles such as the Seer who can pick a player during the Night and get a thumbs up or thumbs down if a werewolf is found, or a Mad Scientist who also kills the player to their left and right if they die — make for a very interesting game and dynamic. Check Price – Werewolf.
3 – Resistance
Resistance is completely and utterly a classic social deception game. If you have ever wondered what it might be like to be a CIA Operative, this game might be the closest you’ll ever get. Play as a Resistance Operative or a Spy and find out how good at deceiving you really are.
As an Operative, you have five nights to carry out a mission to overthrow the evil Empire, but—gasp!—there are traitors in the mix, trying to take the Resistance down from within. Players have three to five rounds with unique missions in the fight against the Empire.
The game starts with a “leader” selecting who he wants to accompany him on his mission. Votes from the whole group are taken, and if the mission is approved, the chosen players then get to secretly decide whether to continue with the mission or sabotage it. The best part is even if the mission fails, you still have to sniff out who is who, while time is winding down. Check Price – The Resistance.
4 – Salem
This social deception game throws you into headfirst into a 17th century witch hunt, and is different from the classic deception. While there are few ‘Witches’ in the group to start, with most players holding ‘Not a Witch’ cards, it would behoove players to slow play and not point fingers right away. In this regard, Salem is a more subtle hunt as accusations may cause more harm than good. Throughout the game, you must decide who to test, who to trust, and for how long.
There is a deck of cards players must draw from that allow you to accuse, defend, help and hurt others.
Fun cards such as “Matchmaker” allow you to tie the fate of players together, or spread the Witchiness to Non Witches via a “Conspiracy” card. The goal of the game is to discover who all the Witches are… or else. Check the Price – Salem.
5 – Secret Hitler
Secret Hitler became popular for more reasons that just its’ name. Maybe because it nails what is is trying to accomplish. It followed the outrageous Cards Against Humanity party game, was backed by one of their, designers, AND came out about when Trump was elected President. So, yeah. This game is incredible if you want to see how people argue and debate, and what happens when someone really pushes for their agenda given a a game set in Nazi Germany with the goal of keeping the fascists from taking control of the government.
It is an eerily good game demonstrating how communication can appear given a liberal set of policies against a fascist backdrop. I can really only say that I believe this game is worth playing a few times. For a more in-depth explanation of how to play – I’ll point you here – ‘Secret Hitler’: For Big Groups, A Heil of a Good Time. Check Price – Secret Hitler.
6 – Coup
Coup: Imagine a dystopian government where bribery, corruption, and power is the name of the game. In a bizarre situation where chaos reigns, and those with mixed backgrounds finally have a chance to rule – you must outsmart your other opponents and be the last one standing. Use your cunning, strategy, and savvy bluffing and political play to rise to the height of political power. You and every player starts out with two role cards face-down.
The deck only contains five characters (Duke, Assassin, Contessa, Ambassador, and Captain) each with its own special strength that may come in handy. Of course, you can always lie about who you are, which only makes the game more interesting.
When your turn arrives, you must make many choices about who to portray, how to act, and ultimately consider how you will eliminate the other players before they can eliminate you. The player who makes it to the end of the game with at least one role card in-tact is the winner. Check Price – Coup.
7 – Bang!
Bang! has a different mechanic in that it involves action cards that can be used to assist with the game play and deduction. The setting is the Wild West, and you can be either the Sheriff, the Deputy, an Outlaw, or a Renegade. In this game, every role has a different goal. If you are a Sheriff, you need to kill every Outlaw and Renegade to win.
The deck of action cards determines the flow of the gameplay itself; “Bang!” Cards let you shoot another player, while the “Missed!” Card, which lets the player dodge your “bullet”. Use your cards wisely as with every action you take can have consequences. The mechanics of the game along with the roles vying for different outcomes, make every move critical and makes for an exciting and challenging game. Be wary! You must navigate these cards and the game play skillfully while guessing who is who in the group without attracting to much attention as to be a target. Check Price – Bang!
On of my favorites, cesigned, by Yusuke Sato, this game packs a big punch, and is the first game released by Indie Boards and Cards from Japan. In this game, simple math and deduction helps players as they are divided into a team, of Investigators, attempting to save the world, or a team, of Cultists, who are determined to wake Cthulhu and bring about the apocalypse.
The goal of the Investigators is of course in direct opposition to that of the Cultists. What the 2 teams have in common is that each player holds cards that may be revealed at any time as players take turns exposing cards. Adding to the complexity, the cards the players hold change as they get shuffled and re-dealt at each turn, so what you said and wanted may have changed from the previous turn. How are you going to explain that to the Investigators and Cultists? There are many ways to try to figure out where the cards are as players claim roles – how people behave to convince you of their claims is of tantamount fun. Check Price – Don’t Mess with Cthulhu.
Avalan, Werewolf, Secret Hitler, Resistance – classic social deception games that revolve around persuasion and social deduction using player behavior and voting patterns as the main mechanism.
Coup, and Bang! – games that also involve additional elements such as character actions or cards that help players to determine roles and angle for the outcome desired.
Salem and Don’t Mess-with-Cthulhu – games that involve other players being able to reveal cards in front of each player, not quite a classic social deception and partly what makes both games so unique.