Board Game Battle: Deception Murder in Hong Kong vs Secret Hitler vs Donner Dinner Party vs The Resistance
This fatal fourway faces off four strong contenders in the hidden traitor category. Now, it doesn’t including Werewolf, probably the best known hidden role game just because I’ve played all of these more or more recently. Which one of these games is the winner? We’ll have to use our social deduction skills to figure that out.
So, what is this type of game?
These games have someone(s) who is actively working against the party. However, no one knows for sure, besides the person/people who are it, who the other people are. You are trying to figure out through the game play but also through conversation and peoples actions who might be working against the teams. These games tend to be more about the social interaction than about the game play itself.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
In Deception, we are a group of detectives working with our forensic scientist to figure out the who done it. However, it is one of us at the table who committed the murder. The only person who knows, besides the murderer and their accomplice is the forensic scientist, however, they can’t tell us what they know directly. They have to send us messages from the lab that might or might not be extremely useful in figuring out the crime. Through this series of clues the detectives discuss what possible combinations of clues and murder weapons who is the murderer.
Secret Hitler revolves around setting up and enacting policies either that are fascist or liberal policies. One player per round is the president and another is the chancellor. The president nominates a chancellor and everyone votes on it. Then the president and chancellor get to enact a policy, but the president grabbing three policies off of the top of a policy pile, picking two, passing them on the chancellor and the chancellor enacting one of them. Through that, you can start to figure out who might be a fascist and who might be a liberal. If the liberals get all their agendas taken care of first, they win, so you can figure out who might be a fascist and avoid them. But you better not let Hitler become the Chancellor too late in the game, or the fascists might just win.
Donner Dinner Party
Lost in the woods it’s a bit snowy, but what could go wrong, there’s plenty of food in the woods, isn’t there? In this game you are part of the Donner Party stuck in the woods, most of you are respectable and wouldn’t consider eating the others in your party, but a few of your are cannibals. Each night you send out everyone into the woods to look for food and if you can come back with enough food, you survive another day. But if you don’t have enough food, someone gets eaten. Each person gets two cards while exploring the woods for food and gets to choose which one they are going to play. However, the party leader just gets a random card put in for them. So you can start to figure out who might be putting in cards that aren’t helping the party, but you don’t want to make it too obvious.
It’s the future and evil corporation has taken over the rule of the world. You are part of the Resistance and are going on missions against the corporation. However, your group has been infiltrated, so each time you go out, you have to put a team together and vote on that team. If the team passes, they get to go out and either help the mission succeed or someone can cause the mission to fail however, you don’t know who on the team. So accusations are flying around as you try and complete enough missions, before too many are failed.
So you’ve seen how these different games work, let’s watch them continue to duke it out.
Well, there are a lot of similarities, they are all based off of the game Mafia or Werewolf, so can probably pull all of these games out with the same group and play them all easily. However, I would say that Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is the most complex out of all of these games with the role of forensic scientist really really helping to create the story. The Resistance is by far the most simple so there’s a wide balance on the list, and it unintentionally went from the most complex to the least complex. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong also has the unique aspect of having the forensic scientist who has a fairly different role from everyone else since they know who is the murder.
I’m going to start off by just eliminating The Resistance. They are the light weight in a match full of heavier weight social deduction games. The Resistance isn’t a bad game, it’s just fairly simple in it’s mechanics. There are some pretty basic strategy that goes into it, like the first mission should always pass so that the infiltrators don’t tip their hand too early. Like Werewolf, which I’ve mentioned in passing, it’s a pretty good introduction to social deduction games, it just doesn’t hold up too well.
Next getting eliminated from the match is The Donner Dinner Party. In the Donner Dinner Party, the game is just a bit too random. With the leader putting in something blind and the fact that you could just end up with poison and a cure of poison in your hand as a good player instead of any food means that you could just be short food no matter what. It seemed a little heavily weighted towards the cannibals.
The final two are Secret Hitler and Deception: Murder in Hong Kong. I think that both of these are very good games, but we can only have one winner.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
Secret Hitler loses points because it has a bit of the same issues that The Donner Dinner Party does, it’s weighted slightly towards the fascists, but it is less so. Also, it’s a theme that isn’t going to work at every table as well as Deception will. For good reason, it’s going to rub some people the wrong way, it can also lead towards more political discussion at the table, which can be a bummer on a game night depending on your group as it can kill a lot of the fun. However, with the right group, and if they don’t treat it seriously at all, the game can work quite well.
However, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is just so clever. The Forensic Scientist really gets a chance to craft that story of what happened in the murder and it has a great puzzle aspect to look at as well as you try and figure out if the information you’re getting from the scientist is for the clue or the murder weapon. And as the scientist it’s cool to see people figuring out the clue and then to rough when the murderer or accomplice is able to move the focus from the actual thing onto something else and the witness tries to subtly move it back in the right direction but doing so without being too obvious so they don’t get caught by the murderer. Obviously, this also has a heavier theme, but when the murder weapon can be a shark with a laser on it (I believe that’s a promo card), the game can be pretty silly.
What’s your favorite hidden role game? Have you played these ones before, do you agree with the winner?
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