“Whoooooo are you…. Who Who Who Who? I really wanna know!!“
It has been awhile since I’ve written here about a board game. I’ve been busy with my students’ report cards that the only writing that I have been doing has been “(insert child’s name here) has demonstrated a good understanding of math concepts this term” over and over again. So when I get an opportunity to play a really awesome game, I have to stop what I’m doing and share it with you guys. The game that I’m writing about today reminds me about crime dramas. In the last few years I’ve enjoyed watching these shows. Whether it be CSI, Criminal Minds or Law and Order, I’ve always liked trying to figure out who the killer is. I’ve also enjoyed the anticipation to see if I was right. Now there’s a board game that does an excellent job in recreating this exact same feeling.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, is a hidden identity board game developed by Tobey Ho. In this game, a group of players will act as investigators and a moderator for the round will act as a forensic scientist. The forensics expert will give clues about a certain weapon and piece of evidence and the team of investigators must piece together the crime and identify the killer. The twist? The killer is one of the investigators and this person is now trying to persuade the team that it is someone else, and essentially cause doubt and mistrust within the team. If the team can correctly identify which investigator is the killer, which murder weapon they used, and the piece of evidence that linked them to the crime, they all win the game.
The set-up is straight forward. Each player is given a secret identity. They will either be an investigator, a forensic scientist, or the murderer. Then four evidence cards and four means of murder cards are placed face up for every player except the forensics expert. Once each player has received their cards, the forensic scientist will moderate the same actions as they would in a game of Werewolf. Each player would close their eyes. Then when prompted, the killer would open their eyes, and choose secretly one of the means and clues that were placed in front of them. Once the murderer has selected, the entire team opens their eyes and the game begins.
The forensic scientist is now given a set of tiles. Each tile will paint the picture of what happened in the crime. The forensic scientist will identify how and where the victim died based on what the murderer had previously selected. The forensic scientist will also give additional clues based on four other random tiles. Once the clues have been given, each player will give a small presentation as to who had done it. Keep in mind that the murderer will create doubt, and elude being caught by blaming someone else that also fits the clues that were given. At any point, a player can make one and only one accusation, which consists of identifying the murderer, the correct means of murder and the evidence that links the person to the crime. This will happen for two more rounds or until the murderer is caught.
One of the most interesting things I’ve seen in this game was the means cards and clue cards. I was quite shocked to see that there are NINETY different means cards and 200 clue cards. That is the most comprehensive list of ways to kill to someone I’ve ever seen, anything from pistols, knives, axes, even weird ones like video game console, towel, or overworking them to death. This also means that there are 18000 different combinations of means and clues that a player can have, a thus a forensic scientist can come up with 18000 different stories. For example, when I was given the murderer card, I had chosen the potted plant as the means and the toothpick as the evidence. The forensic scientist had said that the crime was involved in the living room and that the victim died due to a loss of blood. But the forensic scientist painted this picture that said that I had killed an elderly person while we were dining.
As investigators, players started to theorize on how the crime took place, and which person had the means and the evidence. As the murderer, you start instilling skepticism in the group, blaming someone else based on the clues that were given. From my last example, when I saw that one of the clues was that we were eating in the living room, I had pointed out that one person had the means of knife and fork. So I kept pressing that the dining part was key to what the forensic scientist was saying and it essentially threw off the entire team. Because this game relies on public finger pointing and effective persuasion, Deception works well for groups who are highly social and are made up of great conversationalists. The game is entertaining when people are adding their own crime theories and convincing others that they are not the killer even though they could be.
I also like that the game can be customized for your group’s needs. After you feel like you’ve exhausted enough combinations, or you feel that the game is getting too easy or way too challenging, you can add additional elements. If you think the game isn’t challenging enough, the game suggests giving five cards for each player instead of four. If the game was way too difficult, you can give three cards instead. There are also twist tiles that you can mix in with the regular clue tiles, and they can help the investigators figure out who the murderer is. Additional roles can be added to accommodate for larger groups or make the game more interesting. You can add an accomplice who will add another voice of doubt during investigations or even add a witness, who can figure out who the killer is, but needs to remain unknown because the murderer can still win if they can identify who the witness is.
This game takes the hidden identity game style to a whole new level. It mixes the elements of Clue and Mysterium, and adds a defector mechanic to the mix. There are numerous combinations of clue and means cards, and this gives the players a variety of stories that can be played out. Deception is a great party game, especially when you have a group of people who are willing to take the crime theme and run with it. This game is one of the few that can support a whopping 12 players and you can customize it depending on how simple or challenging you want it to be. I highly recommend purchasing this game, especially if you are a fan of the hidden identity genre.
- Addictive hidden identity game where all players are involved
- Cool crime theme that you play with
- Highly social game; really gets conversation going between people
- Beautiful artwork
- Simple to teach and play
- Game can be customized to fit different levels of play and for different groups
- Not recommended for people who have a difficult time in communicating
- You need a good moderator to facilitate this game, otherwise it gets super crazy.