Hidden roles is slowly becoming one of my favorite mechanisms.  IF you play with the right people.  Many times, I play with my family and trying to get my 8 year old boy to not give away anything is nearly impossible.  But, if you find a good group of people to play it with that has fun with the theme and roles, it can be a very good experience.  I think the more vocal everyone is during hidden role games the better they become.  Trying to throw people off of their hunches or trying to get them to think you aren’t the suspected one is so much fun.  In the right situation and with the right group, Hidden Roles are a great mechanism.  So which ones made my Best 3 Games with…Hidden Roles!

3.  Saboteur 2 by Mayfair Games

I put Saboteur 2 on here because you really need the expansion for this game to be great. The base game came with its issues.  A couple of times we got into situations where there was nothing you could do but pass and still get nothing to help you.  The expansion that is simply called Saboteur 2 fixes these issues and adds even more strategy.  In Saboteur 2 each person is given the identity of a dwarf going into the caves to find gold.  The dwarf determines whose side you are on.  There is a blue team, a green team and other dwarfs that are stand alone people and of course Saboteurs.  If you are a good dwarf you want to get to the gold, if you are a saboteur then you want to keep the other dwarves from the gold.  During your turn you play a card.  You could add tunnels to the cave to get closer to the gold or guide them away from the gold if you are the saboteur….but you have to be subtle about it as you don’t want to be obvious about your goal.  You can also play obstacles on other players or special ability cards to change how the game is going.  The key is finding who is on your team and who is not and how to achieve your objective.  This simple card game designed by Frederic Moyersoen is a really fun hidden role game that keeps things interesting.  Not to mention it plays up to 12 players…….12!!!

2.  Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game by Plaid Hat Games

Dead of Winter is a tricky one and goes along the same lines as Archipelago in the idea that it is only great with the Betrayer in play.  Having each player needing to fulfill their own objective in order to truly win is nice but having the betrayer in the game adds an even deeper tension and I LOVE being the betrayer in this game.  It is true that each player has their secret objective and winning conditions but more times than not you will all be on the same side trying to complete the overall objective……but when that betrayer gets put into the mix, that changes the whole ball game!  Thinking that there could be someone out there that is wanting you to lose and is trying to make things more difficult creates a fantastic hidden role feel.  Especially when you can vote to kick someone out of the group!!!  Waiting for the right moment to signal to the other players that there is a betrayer in the group makes it such an exhilarating yet frightful event for the whole group.  The hidden role mechanisms put into Jonathan Gilmour and Isaac Vega’s Dead of Winter is really, really good!  And the betrayer makes it even better!

1.  Coup by Indie Boards and Cards

Coup is not a deep game.  It’s not a long game.  Heck some people would probably say its not a game at all…..but I LOVE it!  It is so quick and fun I don’t even care who wins.  I don’t even actually know the theme of the game?  I know it is set in Science Fiction and that you need to be the last one standing……that’s all I need to know!  At the beginning of the game each player is given 2 identity cards.  On your turn you simply make one action based on what identities you have…..or don’t have.  That is the beauty of this game….you can do what ever you want, when ever you want to……just don’t get caught!  At any point someone can call your bluff.  If you are telling the truth they lose one of their identity cards.  If you are lying, you lose one of yours.  When you lose both of your identity cards you are out of the round.  The person who is left wins the round…..win 3 rounds…..win the game.  I absolutely love the internal struggle you have in this game on calling people out or not and then lying to peoples faces hoping they don’t call you on it, but they really want to yet they don’t want to be wrong.  It makes me smile just writing about it!!  This lightning quick hidden role game, by Rikki Tahta, with snap judgments is my favorite hidden role mechanism in a game!

  • Tim