To win One Night Ultimate Werewolf, lying is essential. In one round on Polygon’s board game show Overboard, players went so far as to gaslight each other in order to sow confusion and distrust. Feelings are hurt, friendships are tested and no one knows who to trust. It’s a blast.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf takes the home-brew rules of the party game Werewolf (also known as Mafia) and distills them down to a single round. Each player receives a card with a role to play over the course of the night, like a troublemaker who switches cards around and a seer who looks at another player’s card. Some of them, though, will be werewolves trying not to get caught. At the end of the night, everyone votes on who to kill. Werewolves win if anyone other than a werewolf is picked.
Inspired by One Night Ultimate Werewolf, we’re rounding up games that revolve around deception. Below are our favorite board games involving hidden identities, bluffing and good, old-fashioned lying.
One Night Ultimate Vampire/One Night Ultimate Alien
As if a lycanthropy outbreak wasn’t bad enough. One Night Ultimate Werewolf is fun on its own, but if you’re tired of the same roles and want to mix it up a little, Bézier Games makes expansion packs like One Night Ultimate Vampire and One Night Ultimate Alien. The new roles can be played on their own, or added to One Night Ultimate Werewolf for maximum chaos.
Another Overboard pick, Secret Hitler is a hidden role game in which one player is, well, secretly Hitler. Hitler and his supporters try to covertly pass fascist laws without alerting the rest of the players to their identities. It’s an understandably controversial game, but the creators seem to be just as interested in exposing the machinations of fascism as in making light of it. Soon after the 2016 election, they sent a copy to every U.S. senator.
Buy Secret Hitler here: Amazon
Imperial Spies try to undermine Resistance Operatives working to take down an evil empire. During each round of The Resistance, a few players are sent on a mission and can choose to either carry out or sabotage the plans. The Resistance gets a point for a successful mission and the Empire gets a point for a failed mission. If a plan is sabotaged, you can assume that at least one of the players involved in the mission is working for the Empire.
If you like the political intrigue of The Resistance but are more into a medieval theme, a variant called Avalon transposes the game into Arthurian legend, pitting the Knights of the Round Table against Mordred and his minions. It also adds a Merlin, who knows which players are Mordred’s spies but must keep their own identity a secret.
Taking place in the same universe as The Resistance, Coup players wield influence to take out their competition. Each player is dealt two character cards with different skills such as stealing money or ordering assassinations. The catch is that no one knows which characters you’re controlling, i.e. you can say that you’re ordering an assassination even if you’re not holding an assassin card. When someone calls your bluff you lose an influence (and are left with only one character). If you weren’t lying, however, they lose an influence instead.
Sheriff of Nottingham
Players in Sheriff of Nottingham are merchants bringing their wares into the city. You can play it safe and bring in legal goods, or try to make a few extra coins by sneaking contraband past the titular sheriff. Each round, players declare the goods they want to bring into the city (possibly bluffing or bribing the sheriff into letting them through). If he so chooses, though, the Sheriff can decide to inspect your bag and confiscate any contraband for himself.
Alliances are constantly shifting in this game of “social collusion.” Each round, players vote to eliminate one player. That player can counter with an ambush if they sense something’s off, but play an ambush card when you’re not targeted and you’ll be eliminated along with the player who got the most votes.
Dead of Winter
Dead of Winter has been confused with the Walking Dead board game — for good reason. Players work together to survive winter in a zombie apocalypse, but there may (or may not) be a traitor in your midst. In addition to scavenging for supplies and taking out the undead, as supplies dwindle and paranoia sets in, players can exile their fellow survivors.
Two Rooms and a Boom
As the title implies, this game is played in two different rooms. Players are dealt a card with a role and team color. The blue team has a President and the red team has a Bomber. By the end of three rounds, the red team wins if the Bomber and President are in the same room. During the rounds, each room nominates a leader who chooses players to exchange with the other room. Figure out who in your room is an ally or an enemy by showing your cards (or lying).
Buy Two Rooms and a Boom here: Amazon