We recently played a game that ignited the thought for this mechanism and so I thought I would add it to the Best 3 Series. I have already done a Deduction Best 3 that makes you have to solve a puzzle. I have also done a Hidden Roles Best 3 where you have different secret roles in the game that are hidden from others. In this Best 3, I am going to focus on information that is hidden to you from other players or from the game itself. I like a bit of hidden information because it adds a lot of intrigue and suspense in the game. Knowing something that other players know or vice verse is a great way to build tension without needing it to be douchey towards others. Many games use end goals or end game triggers to their games that use this mechanism but I am looking for a bit more depth. So here are the Best 3 Games (in my opinion) with…Hidden Information!
3. Agents of SMERSH by 8th Summit
In this co-op story telling adventure, each player plays a spy agent who needs to gather Intel on the sinister plans of Dr. Lobo and his henchmen. If they gather the right Intel, then they will successfully thwart his plans and take him down…..the interesting thing is you don’t know what Intel you received and if it is the right kind….which makes you the worst spies ever!!! When you travel to a city that contains an Intel marker, it remains hidden, you then perform an adventure there hoping to gain the Intel. When you do complete the adventure, it goes into your Shared Intel Pool, remaining face down. The quicker you gain Intel, the easier the game is to win, conversely, the longer you dilly dally, the more Intel you will need and of different types. There are certain events that happen through out the game that allow you to turn over Intel chits but they far and few between. I like this hidden information mechanic, even though it is quite random and just luck of the draw. You really need to work together and do what is necessary to find the Intel and make sure you get the right information. Jason Maxwell did a nice job incorporating hidden information into this design.
2. Hanabi by Asmodee
We joke in our group that Hanabi is the best game ever! I think it is good, while others think its great……I am starting to come around to the great side. It gets better the more you play it. It is just so unique that it stands out from any other card game. In Hanabi, you and the other players are trying to work together to build the greatest fireworks show. You have a hand full of cards with various numbers and colors on them. The catch is you can’t look at your own cards….but you can see everyone else’s cards. That simple little twist makes all the difference. On your turn, you can play a card for the show, give a clue to one of your teammates or discard a card. You only have a certain amount of clues you can give before you need to start discarding in order to gain more clue tokens, but discarding the wrong card can be damaging! When you share information, you can only give the other player a color or number and point out those cards that match that clue in their hand. The player must then somehow remember those clues until they have the opportunity to play their cards. This can be tricky. Antoine Bauze turned a couple little mechanisms around, literally, to design this great hidden information game. It works at all levels and ages and is a quick, fun card game.
1. Overseers by ThunderGryph Games
This is the only game on my list that is not a co-op, but I think the hidden information that designer Guan Chih Huang implemented in Overseers is fantastic. Players are trying to gain the most points…..but the theme is kinda lame on this one. You gain points by drafting cards that will help you. When drafting is done, you have to place your cards in front of you with 3 showing to all players and 2 that are hidden……then you vote! Every one talks and discusses then secretly votes on who they think has the most points at that moment among their 5 cards. The person who has the most votes will then accept or deny that they have the most. ALL of this is based on the hidden information in front of other players. The player who has to make that choice is put in a tough spot, because he will LOSE 2 cards if he accepts, but then finds out that he has the most OR if he denies it and still has the most points. AND losing two cards is brutal as you score each round of cards and the player with the highest score after 3 rounds is the winner!!! I really love the strategy of the hidden information element in this game. It makes for some really fun interaction, strategy and bluffing.